Friday, January 8, 2016

Suit Challenges Catholic Hospitals' Refusal to Allow Tubal Ligation

RH Reality Check (Jan. 7, 2106): ACLU: Catholic Hospital Illegally Denying Women Contraception, by Zoe Greenberg: 

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic hospital network Dignity Health based on the network's refusal to allow a doctor to perform a tubal ligation requested by patient who is eight months pregnant and scheduled to deliver her third child by C-section.  The patient seeks to have a tubal ligation immediately following the C-section to avoid an unnecessary additional surgery.  Dignity in Health prohibited her doctor from performing the procedure based on religious directors written by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The suit is the latest in an ongoing conflict over whether Catholic hospitals, which are growing in number, can prevent doctors from performing certain types of reproductive health services while receiving state and federal funding. The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of Physicians for Reproductive Health, a national nonprofit made up of doctors, and Rebecca Chamorro, a patient at Dignity Health’s Mercy Medical Center Redding in California.

Tubal ligation is a common form of contraception for married women.  According to RH Reality Check "The best time to perform the procedure is directly after a woman gives birth.  It takes one to two minutes and doesn't require any additional equipment or recovery time."  The ACLU argues that the restriction interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.  Dignity in Health is the fifth-largest health system in the country and receives millions in government grants and Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.  

January 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Oregon Becomes First State to Offer Birth Control Without a Doctor's Prescription

Huffington Post (Jan. 5, 2016): Women in Oregon Can Now Buy Birth Control Over the Counter, by Alanna Vagianos:

On January 1, Oregon became the first state to allow women to get oral contraceptives without a doctor's prescription.  Under the law, women can fill out a health questionnaire and receive birth control pills from their pharmacist.   Supporters of the law, emphasize the use of oral contraceptives is safe and should not be made contingent on an annual check up.

A Nov. 22, 2015 New York Times article States Lead Effort to Let Pharmacists Prescribe Birth Control by Pam Belluck and Sabrina Taverise described the Oregon law and a similar law that passed in California that has yet to be implemented.

The laws are the latest effort to make birth control more accessible, a longstanding goal of medical professionals and policy makers. But unlike other recent debates over contraception — including the firestorm over the Obama administration’s requirement under the Affordable Care Act that all health plans pay for contraceptives — these legislative efforts have been largely free of political rancor.

According to Belluck and Tavernise, while reproductive health and medical associations generally support making birth control more accessible, some worry that pharmacist-prescribed contraceptives do not go far enough.  The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has expressed some concern about these laws because it maintains that oral contraceptives should be available over the counter without a doctor or pharmacist's intervention. 

“My basic tenet is there should be nobody between the patient and the pill,” said Dr. Mark DeFrancesco, [ACOG] president. “I’m afraid we’re going to create a new model that becomes a barrier between that and over the counter. I worry that it’s going to derail the over-the-counter movement.”

January 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

SCOTUS Blog Symposium on Whole Woman's Health v. Cole

This week SCOTUSblog is publishing a multi-part online symposium on Whole Woman's Health v. Cole.  Contributors include Professors Michael Dorf, Gillian Metzger, Kevin Walsh, Reva Siegel and Linda Greenhouse, Misha Tseytlin, Solicitor General of the State of Wisconsin, and Mailee R. Smith, Staff Counsel for Americans United for Life.

January 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

45 Groups File Amicus Briefs Opposing Abortion Restrictions in Whole Woman's Health v. Cole

ThinkProgress (Jan. 5, 2016): The Abortion Case That Could Overturn Roe v. Wade Has a Lot of Opponents, by Alex Zielinski:

This March, the Supreme Court will hear argument in Whole Woman's Health v. Cole to decide whether HB2, a Texas law which places burdensome, unnecessary guidelines on abortion clinics and has already forced more than half of the state's clinic to close is constitutional.  The regulations are framed as health regulations, but they have been criticized as having little to do with women's health while imposing costly and unnecessary requirements on clinics. 

Reproductive rights advocates have been outspoken since HB2 passed in 2013, but since the Supreme Court’s November decision to hear the case, the diversity of opponents has grown. The 45 briefs were filed by a variety of petitioners, including physicians, historians, religious leaders, military officers, scientists, members of Congress, civil rights advocates, law scholars, entire cities, and the United States federal government itself.

  Several of the briefs tell the personal stories of women who have had abortions and the real world impact that HB2 will have on them.

Jessica González-Rojas, the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, [spoke about] the women already harmed the most by the current Texas law.

“For immigrants, mothers, low-wage workers, and Latinas who are all three, securing an abortion means navigating a state-created obstacle course,” she said. “Those unable to jump through these hoops will be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or take matters into their own hands.”

The briefs reflect the largest coalition of faith leaders and organizations to oppose anti-choice laws at the Supreme Court level as well as the views of scientists and medical professionals.   Argument is set for March 2.


January 6, 2016 in Abortion, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Attacks on Abortion Ensnare Family Planning and Fetal Tissue Research

RH Reality Check (Jan. 4, 2016): Attacks of Abortion Rights Continued in 2015 Ensnaring Family Planning Funding and Fetal Tissue Research, Rachel Benson Gold and Elizabeth Nash: 

As discussed in previous posts, during the 2015 state legislative session, state legislatures adopted 57 new abortion restrictions.  But the year was also memorable "because the politics of abortion ensnared family planning programs and providers, as well as critical, life-saving fetal tissue research."

At the same time, several states made important advances in 2015 on other sexual and reproductive health and rights issues. Some of the new provisions include measures that allow women to obtain a full year’s worth of prescription contraceptives at one time from a pharmacy, that allow a provider to treat a patient’s partner for an STI without first seeing the patient, that prohibit the use of “conversion therapy” with minors, and that expand access to dating or sexual violence education. 

According to Guttmacher, in 2015, 11 states tried to cut funding for Planned Parenthood to any family family provider that also offers abortion.  This could seriously impact family planning for low income women because Planned Parenthood health centers serve half or more of the women obtaining contraceptive care from safety-net health centers in two-third of the counties where they operate.  Five states tried to exclude Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program, although these efforts were blocked by federal courts.  Ten states tried to regulate fetal tissue donation and research. 

January 5, 2016 in Contraception, State Legislatures, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0)