Friday, February 18, 2011

In Proposed Spending Bill, Conservatives Seek to Cut Entire Program of Aid for Family Planning

NY Times: Planned Parenthood Financing Is Caught in Budget Feud, by Eirk Eckholm:

Almost unnoticed in the wars over the federal budget has been a pitched battle over money for Planned Parenthood, which provides contraception, medical services and abortions at 800 clinics around the country.

For the last several weeks, those on opposite sides of a sharp cultural divide have engaged in dueling rallies, virtual conferences, online petitions and phone banks as crucial Congressional votes drew near. At stake is more than $75 million that Planned Parenthood receives to provide family planning assistance to low-income women, money that its opponents say only frees up funds for abortions.

Now, in a surprise step that has set off deep alarm among advocates for women’s health, the newly conservative House of Representatives has proposed cutting the entire $317 million program of aid for family planning, known as Title X, in a 2011 spending bill that is expected to pass by the weekend. A proposed amendment to the bill would also bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds for any purpose. . . .

February 18, 2011 in Congress, Contraception, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nathan Kantrowitz on Female Abortion Providers Before Roe v. Wade

Nathan Kantrowitz has posted From Crime to Civil Disobedience: How a Few Women in 1969 Transformed the Definition of Abortion on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision made abortion legal. But a few years before, in 1969, a small group of women - perhaps half a dozen - transformed abortion from a crime to a morally legitimate civil disobedience that was accepted by conservative feminist organizations. Although none of these women had medical training they taught themselves to successfully perform surgical abortions. They did this in the name of feminist ideology. The story exists primarily as told by the women who lived it. My essay analyzes the social and political ramifications of these memoirs. . . .

February 17, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SD "Justifiable Homicide" Bill Shelved For Now

NY Times: South Dakota Shelves Bill Aimed at Defending Unborn, by A.G. Sulzberger:

A state bill to expand the definition of justifiable homicide in South Dakota to include killing someone in the defense of an unborn child was postponed indefinitely Wednesday after an uproar over whether the legislation would put abortion providers at greater risk.

The House speaker, Val Rausch, said that the legislation had been shelved, pending a decision on whether to allow a vote, amend the language or drop it entirely. A spokesman for Gov. Dennis Daugaard said, “Clearly the bill as it’s currently written is a very bad idea.” . . .

February 17, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Fetal Rights, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reps. Waxman and Pallone Demand Citation of Constitutional Authority for H.R. 358

RH Reality Check: Waxman and Pallone Ask "Where's the Constitutional Authority" on H.R. 358?, by Jodi Jacobson:

Constitution Today Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., (D-NJ) Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee, sent a letter (full text below) to Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcomittee, urging him to withdraw consideration of H.R. 358, a bill which among other things would permit hospitals to deny life-saving treatment to pregnant women. The bill passed in subcommittee yesterday. Waxman and Pallone have called on Upton and Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA) not to bring the bill to full committee unless and until it is re-introduced with a proper citation of constitutional authority, in accordance with a rule passed by the House GOP leadership on the first day of the new session.

After last November's election, and upon taking leadership of the House of Representatives, House GOP leadership including Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor made a big show of insisting that they would do everything the "Constitutional way," whatever exactly that means. . . .

February 17, 2011 in Abortion, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

SD Bill Would Include as "Justifiable Homicide" the Killing of Abortion Providers

Mother Jones: South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers, by Kate Sheppard:

South Dakota A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of "justifiable homicide" to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state's GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state's legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person "while resisting an attempt to harm" that person's unborn child or the unborn child of that person's spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman's father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one. . . .

February 15, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Fetal Rights, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 14, 2011

MT Legislature Debates Parental Notice Bill; Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Is Defeated

MT flag Parental Notification Abortion Bill, by Kacey Drescher:

Another emotional debate at the Capitol surrounding abortion as lawmakers hear a proposal that’s very similar to an act that was ruled to be invalid back in 1999. Over forty states have similar measures. . . .

Another controversial abortion-related bill, House Bill 280 which would require an ultrasound before an abortion, was defeated in the House Friday by a vote of 53 to 37. Some supporters of House Bill 280 made it clear they oppose abortion, and argued that requiring women to see an image of the fetus prior to an abortion will prompt some to change their minds while those who opposed the measure said it went too far and was unnecessary.

February 14, 2011 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP), Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

House Leadership's Proposed Spending Plan Would Cut All Title X Family Planning Funding

Center for Reproductive Rights press release (2/12):  CRR Statement on House Spending Plan, Wiping Out Title X Family Planning Funding:

New York—Late yesterday, House leadership officially released its proposed spending plan to fund the government through 2011, including cutting all funding for the Title X program which supports low-cost family planning services that would otherwise be out of reach for poor women.  In addition, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has announced that he will introduce an amendment to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal money.  Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, issued this statement in response:
“Once again, the House majority is talking out of both sides of its mouth – on the one hand preaching fiscal conservatism, while on the other proposing to wipe out a program that has proven to save billions of dollars in public spending.
“For 40 years, health facilities funded by Title X have provided an array of preventive services such as contraception, pelvic exams, and screenings for cervical and breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and sexually transmitted diseases. Without these services, millions of low-income men and women would not be able to afford this basic medical care and prevent health issues before they happen. What’s more in 2008 alone, Title X health centers helped prevent nearly a million unintended pregnancies, contributing to more than $5 billion in cost savings for federal and state governments.
“Equally distressing is Rep. Pence’s back-up proposal to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding. This amendment achieves much of the same.  Without federal funding, these health facilities that provide the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion services, would be forced to shut down – effectively pulling the rug out from under millions of families.
“It’s clear that the House’s real target is women’s health. We strongly urge congressional members to reject the House leadership’s anti-woman strategy, which has become more outrageous by the week.  American women will not stand for these political attacks.”

February 13, 2011 in Congress, Contraception, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

text4baby Program Helps Pregnant Women and New Mothers Stay Informed

New York Times: Mothers-to-Be Are Getting the Message, by David Bornstein:

We’re used to hearing about public initiatives that get mired in politics or entangled in bureaucracy, but we rarely hear about programs that exceed expectations. So here’s one: last week marked the one-year anniversary of a program called text4baby, a service that sends free text messages to women who are pregnant or whose babies are less than a year old, providing them with information, and reminders, to improve their health and the health of their babies.

The service, made available through a broad partnership of community health organizations, wireless carriers, businesses, health care providers and government health agencies, is catching on like wildfire: to date, about 135,000 women have signed up — and organizers have set a new goal of reaching one million users by the end of 2012 (there are four million births each year in the U.S.) What are they doing right? . . .

February 12, 2011 in Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 11, 2011

TX Senate Committee Approves Abortion Ultrasound Bill

Houston Chronicle: Texas Senate panel OKs abortion sonogram bill, by Joe Holley and Bobby Cervantes:

Houston Democrat Ellis provides only dissenting vote; full Senate could get measure next week

Texas One of Gov. Rick Perry's designated "emergency" pieces of legislation cleared an early hurdle on Wednesday when the Senate State Affairs Committee voted in favor of a bill that would require a physician to perform a sonogram on a pregnant woman two hours before performing an abortion.

The bill passed on a 7-1 vote, with Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, dissenting. It is likely to be heard by the full Senate as early as next week. . . .

February 11, 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)

ND House Passes Bill Banning Abortion and Destruction of Embryos

KFYR TV: Abortion Ban Bill Passes in ND House, by Amanda Tetlak:

Representatives approved anti-abortion legislation today. The bill not only bans abortion, but goes a step further and would ban the destruction of human embryos that are created when a woman`s egg is fertilized outside her body, known as in vitro fertilization. . . .

February 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Pro-Life" on Abortion, but What About After Birth?

Atlanta Journal Constitution opinion column: Do ‘pro-lifers’ really care about babies?, by Cynthia Tucker:

Independent voters swung to the GOP in last November’s elections because they were disappointed — or angry — with Democrats over a stubbornly-high unemployment rate, polls show. So you’d think that the new House Republican majority would devote its first few months to legislation aimed at creating jobs.

But since staging futile votes to repeal health care reform, Republicans have been most animated about firing new shots in the culture war. They’ve taken aim at reproductive rights, introducing bills to further curb women’s access to safe and legal abortions. . . .

But, generally speaking, there’s a glaring contradiction in the ideology of anti-abortion proponents: They are passionate about the fetus but indifferent — if not hostile — to actual babies who need a generous social safety net. . . .

February 11, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Protect Life Act" Would Prevent Women From Purchasing Private Insurance Coverage for Abortion

National Women's Law Center: Oppose the Broad and Dangerous Pitts Bill: Women Will Lose the Coverage They Have:

Congress The Pitts bill (H.R. 358), also known as the “Protect Life Act,” is a dangerous bill that threatens women’s ability to purchase private health insurance that includes abortion coverage with their own money and codifies broad and troubling conscience provisions. This bill is another attempt to unravel the health care law while at the same time expanding anti-choice laws that will harm women’s health.

The Pitts Bill Would Prevent Millions of Women from Purchasing Private Insurance Coverage for Abortion. The Pitts bill is an attempt to revive the rejected Stupak amendment, which was designed to eliminate abortion coverage in the private insurance market. The bill prohibits all individuals who receive federal subsidies from purchasing a plan that includes abortion coverage, as well as prohibiting insurance plans from covering abortion if they include even one individual who receives a subsidy. Health care plans will most likely be deterred from covering abortion and since most insurance plans currently cover abortion, the Pitts bill would result in millions of women losing coverage they currently have. . . .

February 11, 2011 in Abortion, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Protect Life Act" Risks The Lives of Pregnant Women

The Hill - Congress Blog: ‘Protect Life Act’ puts women’s lives at risk, by Vicki Saporta:

This week, I attended the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing on HR 358, the so-called “Protect Life Act,” sponsored by Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Dan Lipiniski (D-IL). Despite its name, this bill would actually put the lives of women at risk. In addition to making it all but impossible for women to get insurance coverage for abortion care in the new state health exchanges—even if they use their own money—this bill would let public hospitals refuse to provide emergency abortion care even when necessary to save a woman’s life. . . .

February 11, 2011 in Abortion, Congress, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Catholic Hospital Pushes Risky Abortion Reversals

TIME: The 'Unbortion': Chicago Hospital Persuades Women to Halt Abortions, by Bonnie Rochman:

There are many decisions in life that are irreversible, but, as it turns out, abortion does not have to be one of them.Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune reported on a Chicago hospital it says is one of the only Roman Catholic medical centers to offer what amounts to an un-bortion. Because second-trimester abortions span multiple days during which the cervix is first softened by inserting bundles of dried seaweed called laminaria, a woman who has second thoughts can, in theory, backtrack. The laminaria can be removed and the woman's cervix allowed to close naturally, as the fetus continues to develop. . . .

Halting an abortion is far from risk-free. It has the potential to end in pre-term birth or miscarriage, exacerbating an already traumatic decision. A 2009 study from New York University found that two of four abortion reversals resulted in pre-term births; those babies did not survive. . . .

February 11, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Benefits of Folic Acid May Not Include Preventing Preterm Birth

LA Times: Folate intake in pregnancy is good -- but it may not prevent preterm birth, by Shari Roan:

Folate is a valuable nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Studies show adequate intake of folate -- or folic acid -- just before pregnancy and during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of spinal cord defects. However, a new study shows one thing folate apparently can't do: lower the risk of preterm birth.

Researchers have long wondered if the amount of folate in the diet would have an impact on preterm birth. One previous study suggested that it might help. . . .


February 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Center for Reproductive Rights Sues FDA Over Emergency Contraceptive, Plan B

Center for Reproductive Rights: Center Sues FDA for Denying Women Over-the-Counter Access to Emergency Contraception:

FDA Internal Memo Suggests Agency Did Not Follow Regulations

Friday evening, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit against the Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in federal court for failing to approve the emergency contraceptive product Plan B for over-the-counter status. Emergency contraception (EC), sometimes known as "the morning after pill," reduces the risk of pregnancy by approximately 89 percent when it is taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, according to a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The Center filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of a national organization of reproductive health providers, several individual women activists, and a national organization dedicated to improving Latinas' reproductive health. All of these groups strive to reduce unintended pregnancy rates, including teen pregnancies, by educating women about EC and increasing access to it.

The lawsuit was filed within hours after the FDA announced that it would delay in deciding whether Plan B should be made available over-the-counter to women 16 and older. Last year, the FDA denied another request from Plan B's manufacturers to make the product available over-the-counter to women of all ages. In addition, the FDA has failed to act on a citizen's petition filed by the Center almost four years ago on behalf of numerous health care and reproductive rights organizations.

According to the plaintiffs, by denying women access to Plan B without a prescription, and by failing to follow its own procedures and statutory and regulatory mandates, the FDA violated the Administrative Procedures Act and the U.S. Constitution.

When the FDA denied Plan B over-the-counter (OTC) status last year, it cited a lack of information on whether EC could be taken safely by women under the age of 16 or whether easier access would promote risk-taking sexual behavior among teens. But according to an internal memorandum, the FDA failed to follow proper procedure in making that decision. In the April 2004 memo, the Director of the FDA's Office of New Drugs, Dr. John Jenkins, wrote that "[the FDA] has not heretofore distinguished the safety and efficacy of Plan B and other forms of hormonal contraception among different ages of women of childbearing potential and I am not aware of any compelling scientific reason for such a distinction in this case." . . .

February 10, 2011 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Antichoice Advocates Contemplate Abortion Bans in Form of "Heartbeat" Bill

AlterNet: Worse Than "Personhood," Ohio "Heartbeat" Bill Could Be a Total Abortion Ban, by Robin Marty:

For years, anti-choice forces have sought to find new ways to curb abortion rights by turning the focus of the issue from the woman to the fetus she’s carrying. Most recently they've done this with the spate of personhood amendments which would have given legalized rights to a zygote. These initiatives have been successfully fought back by pro-choice forces (after all, if a fertilized egg is a person, women could be committing murders every single time they menstruate, and IVF would also be illegal).

The same twisted logic lies behind the Heartbeat Bill, a new piece of potential legislation. Everyone has seen the misleading billboards scattered across the Midwest claiming “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart” thanks to anti-abortion groups like Pro-Life America. But what if that “beating heart” was the new standard put in place to define life and outlaw the procedure? . . .

February 10, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Fetal Rights, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Despite Promises, "Forcible Rape" Language Remains in House Abortion Bill

The Huffington Post: 'Forcible Rape' Language Remains In Bill To Restrict Abortion Funding, by Amanda Terkel:

After significant public blowback, House Republicans last week promised to drop a controversial provision in their high-priority No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act that would redefine rape. But almost a week later, that language is still in the bill.

Last week, a spokesman for the bill's principal sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), said, "The word forcible will be replaced with the original language from the Hyde Amendment." The Hyde Amendment bans taxpayer dollars from being used for abortions, except in cases of incest and rape -- not just "forcible rape," as the Smith bill, H.R. 3, would have it. . . .

February 10, 2011 in Abortion, Congress, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Partisan Constitutional Rulings and the Fate of the Health Care Law

Supreme Ct NY Times: Doing the Judicial Math on Health Care, by Adam Liptak:

WASHINGTON — Put away your copy of the Constitution. Take out your calculator. It’s time for some judicial arithmetic.

There have been four rulings on the constitutionality of the Obama health care law. All four considered the same legislative provisions, constitutional clauses and court precedents. Yet the two decisions from judges appointed by Democratic presidents upheld the law, while the two from judges appointed by Republicans, including a ruling on Monday, struck down part or all of it. . . .

February 9, 2011 in In the Courts, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Texting While Birthing"

New York Magazine: Texting While Birthing, by Tina Cassidy:

The biological case for live updates from the delivery room.

Not long ago, a Boston anesthesiologist witnessed a childbirth milestone. In the operating room, a mother, awake while undergoing a C-section, lay on a hospital bed. A sheet was draped in front of her, protecting the sterile field while shielding her eyes from the cutting below, none of which she could presumably feel, except for vague sensations. In the woman’s left hand, she held a cell phone—which she was using to text her mother just as the baby was lifted from the womb. The anesthesiologist documented the woman’s real-time documentation with a photograph, which he then submitted to The International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia. . . .

February 9, 2011 in Culture, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)