Thursday, January 31, 2019
East Idaho News (Jan. 30, 2019): Idaho legislators seek to make abortion murder, by Mark Price:
Rep. Heather Scott, (R-Blanchard), and freshman Rep. John Green, (R-Post Falls), released a draft of a bill that would repeal the Idaho statute exempting women or anyone participating in abortion from being charged with murder.
By repealing the exemption, any abortion, without exception, performed in Idaho would be considered murder. The woman who has the abortion and the person who performs the abortion could both be prosecuted for murder.
“We either define life as a fetus, or we don’t,” Scott said. “A woman can go out of state if she needs an abortion. But we just wouldn’t do it in our state. We’ll protect life in our state.”
Green said he rejects the idea the bill would go against federal law or Roe v. Wade. The 1973 United States Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion across the country.
The proposed legislation would not allow the prosecution of anyone who has had or participated in an abortion in the past.
Sen. Dan Foreman (R-Moscow) proposed a similar bill in 2017. The bill would have charged women who had and doctors who performed abortions with first-degree murder. It did not find traction during the session.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
CBS News (Jan. 30, 2019): Virginia bill would loosen restrictions on late-term abortions, by Kathryn Watson:
A new bill proposed by Delegate Kathy Tran in the Virginia House of Delegates would ease restrictions on abortion care during the third trimester of pregnancy, and allow abortions during the second trimester to take place outside hospitals.
Under current Virginia law, abortions during the third trimester require a determination by a doctor and two consulting physicians that continuing the pregnancy would likely result in the woman's death or "substantially and irremediably" impair her mental or physical health. However, the new bill would require one doctor to make the determination that the pregnancy threatens the woman's life or health, and would eliminate the requirement that abortions during the second trimester be performed in a state-licensed hospital. Proponents of the Virginia legislation argue the bill, which is, is needed to protect women's health.
Only slightly more than 1 percent of abortions are performed at 21 weeks of pregnancy or later. Patients at this stage often seek abortion care after a doctor has detected a life-threatening fetal abnormality.
Republicans narrowly control the House of Delegates, so the bill is unlikely to pass anytime soon. A subcommittee voted to table the bill in a 5-3 vote Monday.
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Rewire.News (Jan. 25, 2019): I'm an Abortion Provider. This is What New York’s Reproductive Health Act Means to Me, by Dr. Monica Dragoman:
On January 22, 2019, the 46th anniversary of landmark court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States, New York state lawmakers passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). The RHA enshrines the protections of Roe into state law, removes abortion from the criminal code, and clarifies that trained health-care providers acting within their scope of practice can provide abortion care.
Dr. Monica Dragoman, an abortion provider at Planned Parenthood of New York City, says she is thrilled to see state legislators "recognize how critical abortion access is to the health and well-being of our communities," especially in the face of increased threats to abortion access from Washington, DC.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, only slightly more than 1 percent of abortions are performed at 21 weeks of pregnancy or later. Patients at this stage often seek abortion care after a doctor has detected a life-threatening fetal abnormality.
Under New York’s previously outdated abortion law, those seeking abortion care later in pregnancy had to travel out of state to receive the procedure. Says Dr. Dragoman, "this is often a logistical nightmare that includes the stress of finding a provider out of state, raising funds for the procedure itself and the associated travel, and dealing with insurance coverage," creating particularly insurmountable obstacles for people with low incomes.
Dragoman cites the case of reproductive health activist Erika Christensen, "who, at 31-weeks pregnant, carrying a pregnancy she and her husband desperately wanted, learned that her baby would be unable to survive outside the womb." New York’s abortion law, which housed the procedure in the criminal code, forced Christensen to travel to Colorado, where the procedure alone cost her $10,000, "an unthinkable amount for most, even for a necessary medical procedure."
With passage of the Reproductive Health Act, Dragoman says, "New York can finally grow to be a model of what sexual and reproductive health care should be." The RHA "is a resounding endorsement of an individual’s autonomy to determine if and when to parent."
But the work isn't done, says Dragoman After the RHA, New York "must tackle issues of affordability, insurance coverage, and comprehensive provider training when it comes to abortion."
Monday, January 21, 2019
Rewire.news (Jan. 16, 2019): Lawsuit: Pennsylvania's Medicaid Abortion Coverage Ban is Unconstitutional, by Jessica Mason Pieklo:
Perhaps signaling a turn towards state courts strategies, last week the Women's Law Project filed a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's ban on Medicaid abortion coverage alleging violation of the Pennsylvania constitution. Like the federal government's Hyde Amendment, Pennsylvania law prohibits the use of state Medicaid funds to pay for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or where the pregnancy endangers a woman's life.
The lawsuit alleges that the ban on funding violates Pennsylvania's Equal Rights Amendment.
“Pennsylvania’s ban on Medicaid coverage of abortion is a decades-long injustice that deprives low-income women of reproductive health care in violation of the state Constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment,” Susan J. Frietsche, senior staff attorney at the Women’s Law Project, said in a statement. “The coverage ban discriminates on the basis of sex because Medicaid comprehensively covers men’s health care but not women’s. It inflicts severe harm on women because of their reproductive capacity, and it does so in service to discredited sex-role stereotypes that continue to limit women’s equal participation in society."
The lawsuit seeks reversal of a 1985 Pennsylvania Supreme Court case that ruled that the abortion funding restrictions do not violate the state constitution.
Monday, January 14, 2019
The Inquirer (Jan. 14, 2019): Philly judge blocks Trump efforts to rollback birth control mandate, Jeremy Roebuck:
One day after a California judge issued a temporary injunction preventing new Trump Administration regulations expanding employers' ability to opt out of the ACA's contraceptive mandate from going into effect in 13 states and D.C., a Philadelphia court issued a nationwide injunction.
According to the Inquirer, in granting a temporary injunction, Judge Wendy Beetlestone
concluded that the Trump administration’s new regulations run counter both to government rule-making procedures and the intent of Congress in crafting the Obama administration’s signature healthcare law.
“The breadth of the exemptions set out in the [regulations] is remarkable," she wrote. "The ... religious exemption allows all non-profit and for-profit entities, whether closely held or publicly traded, to deny contraceptive coverage based on sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The regulations also would permit all employers, except publicly traded corporations, and private colleges and universities to deny contraceptive coverage on "moral grounds."
New York Times (January 14, 2019): Judge Blocks Trump's Attempt to Roll Back Birth Control Mandate, by Matt Stevens:
Yesterday, a federal judge in Oakland issued a preliminary injunction preventing new rules that would allow employers to opt out of the ACA's contraceptive mandate from going into effect in 13 states and D.C. The new rules will go into effect in the other 37 states that were not party to the lawsuit.
Under the ACA, employers and insurers providing health care are required to cover preventative services, including FDA approved contraceptives, free of charge. The Obama Administration initially provided exemptions for churches and non-profit religious organizations. Following the Supreme Court's 2014 Hobby Lobby case, the exemptions were expanded to include privately held for profit corporations.
The regulations challenged by the lawsuit significantly broaden the scope of the exemptions by allowing all types of employers to opt out based on religious objection and all employers except publicly traded corporations to opt out based on moral objections. The judge issued the preliminary injunction based on a finding that the rules were not "in accordance with" the ACA.
The states that are party to the lawsuit are California,Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.