Daily Women's Health Policy Report

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Daily Women's Health Policy Report by the National Partnership for Women & Families
Updated: 38 min 13 sec ago

Advocates Want Antiabortion-Rights 'Gag' Provision Dropped From N.D. Human Trafficking Bill

53 min 38 sec ago

Women's health advocates in North Dakota are calling for the removal of an amendment that would bar state funds from being used to "refer for or counsel" human trafficking survivors "in favor of abortion," the Grand Forks Herald reports.

Advocates Want Antiabortion-Rights 'Gag' Provision Dropped From N.D. Human Trafficking Bill

March 4, 2015 — Women's health advocates in North Dakota are calling for the removal of an amendment that would bar state funds from being used to "refer for or counsel" human trafficking survivors "in favor of abortion," the Grand Forks Herald reports.

The underlying bill (SB 2107), which aims to curb human trafficking, received unanimous approval in the state Senate and now heads to the state House Judiciary Committee for consideration. State Sen. David Hogue (R) proposed the so-called "gag" provision on abortion at the request of the North Dakota Catholic Conference.

Debate

Opponents of the amendment have argued that human trafficking survivors who become pregnant should have access to abortion. "Victims of sexual trafficking are victims of rape," said Karla Rose Hanson of the North Dakota Women's Network, citing a news report that women and girls forced into prostitution can be subjected to hundreds of sexual acts per year.

Amy Jacobson, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota's public affairs manager, expressed concern that the amendment could bar "[a]nybody who gets state dollars ... from telling" pregnant women that abortion is an option.

Supporters of the amendment have said it is consistent with other North Dakota statutes that prohibit state funds from being used for abortion services or counseling. State Sen. Judy Lee (R) added that the language is not likely to be dropped in the state House, but "[t]hat doesn't mean [opponents] shouldn't bring it up" (Springer, Grand Forks Herald, 3/2).


Stuart v. Loomis

8 hours 52 min ago

Federal court challenge to a North Carolina law that prohibits a woman from getting an abortion until four hours after her physician performs an ultrasound, places the ultrasound images in her view, and provides her with a detailed explanation and description of the images, whether or not she wants to see the images or hear any or all of the description.

Stuart v. Loomis

Federal court challenge to a North Carolina law that prohibits a woman from getting an abortion until four hours after her physician performs an ultrasound, places the ultrasound images in her view, and provides her with a detailed explanation and description of the images, whether or not she wants to see the images or hear any or all of the description. In December 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina judge granted a preliminary injunction against enforcement of parts of the law. Current Status: In January 2014, the district court declared the speech-and-display provision unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction, preventing enforcement. The state appealed the injunction to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. (See the law here. See the district court opinion supporting the temporary injunction here. See the district court opinion supporting the permanent injunction here. Read more about the case here.)

NAACP v. Horne

9 hours 58 min ago

Federal court challenge to a 2011 Arizona law that requires providers to certify that a patient's reasons for seeking abortion care are unrelated to the race or sex of the fetus.

NAACP v. Horne

Federal court challenge to a 2011 Arizona law that requires providers to certify that a patient’s reasons for seeking abortion care are unrelated to the race or sex of the fetus. In May 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The case was dismissed for lack of standing. Current Status: On March 12, 2014, The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and the NAACP appealed the dismissal. (See the law here. See the complaint here. See the final decision here. Read more about the case here.)

20-Week Abortion Ban, Parental Involvement Bills Advance in N.M. House

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 17:46

New Mexico's House Judiciary Committee on Friday voted 7-6 to approve two antiabortion-rights measures, sending them to the full chamber, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

20-Week Abortion Ban, Parental Involvement Bills Advance in N.M. House

March 3, 2015 — New Mexico's House Judiciary Committee on Friday voted 7-6 to approve two antiabortion-rights measures, sending them to the full chamber, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

The measures were approved along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor of the bills and Democrats voting against them. The full state House could vote on the bills this week, according to the Journal (Boyd, Albuquerque Journal, 2/28).

Details of Bills

One measure (HB 390), sponsored by state Rep. Yvette Herrell (R), would ban abortions at 20 weeks' gestation if a physician has said the fetus is viable. In addition, the bill would allow heath care providers to refuse to participate in abortion care, including medication abortions, if they are opposed to the procedure for moral, personal or religious reasons.

The second bill (HB 391) would require parental notification at least 48 hours prior to a minor's abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/24).The committee amended the bill to allow exceptions to the notification requirement if a minor's health is at risk (Albuquerque Journal, 2/28).

Both bills would not apply in cases of rape, incest or other sexual abuse, as well as endangerment to a woman's life. Physicians found to violate either measure could face a civil penalty of $5,000 or more and lose their medical licenses for at least one year (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/24).

Testimony on the Measures

According to the Journal, about 60 members of the public attended Friday's hearing on the measures.

During testimony on the measures, New Mexico House Minority Leader Brian Egolf (D) said HB 390 is "vastly broader than just a 20-week ban," citing the bill's other provisions (Albuquerque Journal, 2/28). Specifically, Egolf said that the measure could allow pharmacists to refuse to fill women's prescriptions for emergency contraceptives (Reichbach, New Mexico Political Report, 2/28).

Separately, Alan Firestone, a retired physician, said "physicians are already regulated enough with respect to" abortions and that the decision to have an abortion should be between women and their doctors.

Meanwhile, backers of HB 391 asserted that parental involvement is already required for minors for tattoos and prescriptions (Albuquerque Journal, 2/28).


Blogs Comment on Why 'Poor Women Have More Abortions,' Latest Texas Anti-Choice Bills, More

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 16:56

Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Slate, "ThinkProgress" and more.

Blogs Comment on Why 'Poor Women Have More Abortions,' Latest Texas Anti-Choice Bills, More

March 3, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Slate, "ThinkProgress" and more.

ACCESS TO CARE: "Why do Poor Women Have More Abortions?" Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": Marcotte discusses a new Brookings Institution paper that "found that [unmarried] women have about the same amount of sex regardless of class, but poorer women are five times as likely to have unintended births than more affluent women," in large part "because of the gap in abortion and contraception access" between the two groups. Specifically, she explains the report's "peculiar" finding that unmarried women with annual incomes of $11,670 or less terminate 8.6% of their pregnancies, while those with annual incomes above $47,000 abort 32% of their pregnancies, even though other data show that the "the majority of abortions are obtained by women living in or near poverty." Marcotte writes that the reason for this "is simple: Lower-income single women get pregnant way more often," largely because they are "twice as likely to have had unprotected sex," according to the Brookings study. The findings "underline the one unchanging truth about the abortion rate: The only reliable way to lower the overall number of abortions women get is to make contraception accessible and affordable," Marcotte argues (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 3/2).

ECONOMIC INEQUALITY: "The Poorest Women Are Being Priced Out of Family Planning," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler also discusses the Brookings report, which "provides clear evidence that low-income women are being priced out of their ability to control their fertility and plan their family size." She highlights recommendations from the researches "to address the deeply entrenched economic inequality that prevents low-income women from controlling their fertility," including "that the U.S. needs more policies to increase low-income women's access to long-acting reversible contraceptives, like IUDs, which have already been proven effective at reducing the rate of unintended pregnancy among that population." The researchers also noted that "financial barriers to abortion [are] part of the equation, too," Culp-Ressler notes. The report's authors wrote, "There are of course strongly-held views on abortion, but it should be hard for anyone to accept such inequalities by income, especially when they are likely to reverberate across two or more generations. Abortion is a difficult choice, but it is not one that should [be] influenced by financial status" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 2/27).

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Repro Wrap: Babies Aren't in Your Stomach and Other News," Robin Marty, Care2: "The biggest news of the week (or at least the most covered) had to be the story of ... Idaho ... Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri," who during "debate on a bill [HB 154] that would massively restrict telemedicine abortion in the state ... asked if a woman 'can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam,'" Marty writes. She explains that a "doctor responded with the medically accurate statement that a camera that is swallowed would not go to the vagina." Marty touches on reproductive health restrictions in other states, such as a telemedicine abortion ban (SB 53) signed into law in Arkansas, a rejected Nebraska bill (LB 77) that would "have provided contraception and other sexual health care to low income people," and bills in Oklahoma (HB 1721) and Kansas (SB 95) that would ban certain abortions, among other legislation. She also highlights some "good news," such as how "a legislative 'personhood' push failed in Colorado, New Hampshire defeated new anti-abortion legislation [HB 677], Oregon [lawmakers announced a] pro-reproductive health measure in the state that would have insurance plans cover all reproductive choices, and truth in advertising rules [212-11] on Crisis Pregnancy Centers in [San Francisco] were upheld by the courts" (Marty, Care2, 2/27).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "20-Week Abortion Ban Sent to West Virginia Governor's Desk," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.

ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Losing My Lege: These Bills are the Icing on the Hate-Cake," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: Grimes writes about her "incredible experience of seeing Texas activists' new 'Trust. Respect. Access.' campaign in action," which featured an "'unprecedented'" coalition of reproductive health-rights groups "talk[ing] with often hostile [state] legislators about increasing access to reproductive health-care services and information." However, she notes that Texas lawmakers have "already filed a slate of oppressive and unnecessary legislation this session," including an "appalling" bill (HB 1976) that "would remove the exception for severe fetal abnormalities in Texas' 20-week abortion ban [HB 2]." She adds that state lawmakers have also proposed "unnecessary restrictions that further burden abortion providers to report on their patients to the state government" and a bill (HB 1942) that would make "public ... the names of the few judges in Texas who grant judicial bypasses to minors seeking abortion care," which potentially could lead to minors being identified as well (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 2/27).


Idaho House Passes Telemedicine Abortion Ban

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 16:43

The Idaho House on Monday voted 55-14 to pass a bill (HB 154) that would bar physicians from using telemedicine in medication abortion care by requiring them to be physically present while administering the drugs, the AP/Idaho Statesman reports.

Idaho House Passes Telemedicine Abortion Ban

March 3, 2015 — The Idaho House on Monday voted 55-14 to pass a bill (HB 154) that would bar physicians from using telemedicine in medication abortion care by requiring them to be physically present while administering the drugs, the AP/Idaho Statesman reports. The bill now heads to the state Senate.

None of the state's three clinics that offer abortion services use telemedicine for medication abortions (Kruesi, AP/Idaho Statesman, 3/2).

Bill Details

The antiabortion-rights group Idaho Chooses Life proposed the legislation. Under the bill, providers would have to conduct a physical exam before administering medication abortion drugs, be capable of providing surgical intervention and attempt to schedule a follow-up appointment, among other requirements.

Further, the measure would allow a patient, her spouse or, if the patient is deceased, her parents to seek damages against the provider for alleged violations of the legislation. In addition, county prosecutors could call for an injunction against the provider.

Idaho lawmakers revised the legislation at the request of a state physicians group. Specifically, the revisions eliminated language that would have required medication abortion providers to make "all" efforts necessary to ensure follow-up care and added a stipulation that providers make "reasonable efforts" to schedule such appointments. In addition, the revised measure clarified that follow-up visits can occur with a different provider at the same practice (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/24).

House Debate

Supporters said the legislation would protect women's health and claimed that medication abortions can cause women to experience complications that require surgery (AP/Idaho Statesman, 3/2).

However, state Rep. Ilana Rubel (D) noted the measure "was not driven by the medical community" and was actually "brought by anti-abortion activists." Data on medication abortion show that the procedure is safe, she added (Brown, Twin Falls Times-News, 3/3).

Some supporters suggested that the measure would reduce the number of abortions, according to the AP/Statesman. "I think [the bill] may cause some women to ponder a little longer before having an abortion," state Rep. Linden Bateman (R) said (AP/Idaho Statesman, 3/2).

Rubel said the bill would not cause the number of abortions to decrease and instead could make abortion more costly and less accessible for low-income and rural women, which in turn could delay them from obtaining abortions until later in pregnancy.

In addition, state Rep. Melissa Wintrow (D) said legislators should not impose limitations on how physicians can perform a procedure. "It would be a mistake to ban [telemedicine abortion] preemptively, especially as practices of medicine change," Wintrow said (Twin Falls Times-News, 3/3).


Report: Low-Income Women Less Likely Than More Affluent Women To Access Abortion, Use Contraception

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 16:17

Unmarried, low-income women ages 15 to 44 are far less likely than those with incomes of more than 400% of the federal poverty level to use contraception and have an abortion, but they are more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, according to a Brookings Institution study, Vox reports.

Report: Low-Income Women Less Likely Than More Affluent Women To Access Abortion, Use Contraception

March 3, 2015 — Unmarried, low-income women ages 15 to 44 are far less likely than those with incomes of more than 400% of the federal poverty level to use contraception and have an abortion, but they are more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, according to a Brookings Institution study, Vox reports (Kliff, Vox, 2/27).

For the report, researchers analyzed 2011-2013 data from the National Survey of Family Growth (Reeves/Venator, Brookings Institution, February 2015).

Key Findings

The report found that women across all income levels were equally likely to have had sex in the past year.

However, Brookings researchers Joanna Venator and Richard Reeves found that about 16% of women with incomes below the poverty level said they had sex without contraception during the past year, compared with 7.9% of women with incomes of more than 400% of FPL.

In addition, the report found that lower-income women were less likely to have an abortion than higher-income women. Specifically, 8.6% of women with incomes below the poverty level had an abortion, compared with 31.9% of women with incomes above 400% of FPL.

Further, the report found that 9% of women with incomes below the poverty level said they had become pregnant during the past year, about three times the pregnancy rate among women with incomes above 400% of the poverty level.

Effects on Unintended Childbearing

Overall, the lower-income women were five-times more likely than the higher-income women to have an unintended birth, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the researchers found that, among women who said they were not actively trying to get pregnant, about one-third said they would not be upset if they became pregnant and that "this proportion [did] not vary by income." According to Vox, this finding suggests that greater barriers to abortion care and reliable contraception, rather than greater indifference about having a child, are behind the higher rate of unintended childbearing among lower-income women (Vox, 2/27).

The researchers wrote, "If all single women adopted the same rates of contraception use as high-income single women, the ratio of unintended births between affluent and poor women would be cut in half" (Lane, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/2).


Study: Over-the-Counter Birth Control Without Cost-Sharing Would Reduce Unintended Pregnancies

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 15:27

Making birth control pills available without a prescription or out-of-pocket costs could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies among low-income women by 7% to 25%, according to a study published in Contraception, Medical Daily reports.

Study: Over-the-Counter Birth Control Without Cost-Sharing Would Reduce Unintended Pregnancies

March 3, 2015 — Making birth control pills available without a prescription or out-of-pocket costs could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies among low-income women by 7% to 25%, according to a study published in Contraception, Medical Daily reports (Bushak, Medical Daily, 2/27).

Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco and Ibis Reproductive Health collaborated on the study. They projected scenarios in which women would be able to obtain birth control pills at a pharmacy without a prescription and have the cost covered by insurance (Bassett, Huffington Post, 2/27).

Key Findings

About 11% to 12% more women would use the pill if it could be obtained at a pharmacy without a prescription or out-of-pocket costs, the researchers estimated. The increase in pill use would reduce the number of women who do not use contraception or who only rely on condoms by about 20% to 36%, resulting in a reduction in unintended pregnancies.

Study co-author Dan Grossman explained, "Women who are currently using methods that are less effective than the pill -- mainly condoms or nothing -- would use it," adding, "Particularly low-income women" (Medical Daily, 2/27).

Grossman noted that although the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) has expanded access to contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing, "there is still a need for over-the-counter birth control to fill the gap when women run out of pills while traveling, for example, or for those who find it inconvenient to get to a clinic." He added, "But to reach the largest number of women most in need, it's critical that a future [over-the-counter] pill be covered by insurance" (Huffington Post, 2/27).


Neb. Senate Rejects Medicaid Family Planning Expansion Bill

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 20:30

The Nebraska Senate on Thursday voted 23-21 against a bill (LB 77) that would have made health screening and contraceptive services more accessible to low-income women, NET reports.

Neb. Senate Rejects Medicaid Family Planning Expansion Bill

March 2, 2015 — The Nebraska Senate on Thursday voted 23-21 against a bill (LB 77) that would have made health screening and contraceptive services more accessible to low-income women, NET reports (Knapp, NET, 2/26).

Background

The measure, proposed by state Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, would have allowed Nebraska women with family incomes of up to 185% of the federal poverty level to access Medicaid services for family planning and health screenings. In addition, Nordquist's measure would have allotted about $500,000 in fiscal year 2015-2016 and FY 2016-2017 for outreach, education and preventive services for medically underserved women.

Twenty-nine states have federal approval for similar Medicaid family planning programs (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/12).

Legislative fiscal staff predicted the bill could have saved the state $13 million annually.

Debate

Nordquist said, "This is a surefire, evidence-based, practiced-in-29-states way to reduce Medicaid costs" (Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald, 2/26).

State Sen. Mark Kolterman, who opposed the measure, said the bill "deals with something that [he has] fundamentally ... opposed for a number of years, and that's the federal government paying for contraception."

Nordquist said, "[W]e aren't forcing anything on anybody here .... If somebody has a moral objection to contraception, that woman doesn't have to use it by any means" (NET, 2/26).


Ore. Lawmakers Announce Comprehensive Women's Health Bill

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 20:25

A group of Oregon lawmakers on Friday announced legislation aimed at closing gaps in reproductive health care coverage for women in the state, the Portland Business Journal reports.

Ore. Lawmakers Announce Comprehensive Women's Health Bill

March 2, 2015 — A group of Oregon lawmakers on Friday announced legislation aimed at closing gaps in reproductive health care coverage for women in the state, the Portland Business Journal reports.

The measure, called the Comprehensive Women's Health Bill, would require all health plans in the state to cover abortion, contraceptives and maternity care. It would also require health plans to cover a twelve-month supply of birth control dispensed at one time. Democratic state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, Sen. Sara Gelser, Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer and Rep. Barbara Smith Warner said they will introduce the bill.

Michele Stranger Hunter, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon and the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health, said, "As states across the country are stripping women of reproductive health services and coverage, Oregon is making strides to ensure that [our] residents ... are healthy by providing a full range of reproductive health care."

Separately, Aimee Santos-Lyons, gender justice director at the Western States Center, urged Oregon lawmakers "to swiftly pass the Comprehensive Women's Health Bill," which will "fil[l] the gaps in our current laws so that Oregonians will be covered for [their] reproductive health needs regardless of income, how they are insured or where they live" (Thompson, Portland Business Journal, 2/27).


Ky. House Approves Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 20:22

The Kentucky House on Thursday voted 95-0 to approve a bill (HB 218) that would require businesses to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, the AP/Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

Ky. House Approves Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act

March 2, 2015 — The Kentucky House on Thursday voted 95-0 to approve a bill (HB 218) that would require businesses to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, the AP/Lexington Herald-Leader reports (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/27).

The bill, called the Kentucky Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act, now heads to the state Senate for consideration (Wilkerson, SurfKy News, 2/26).

Bill Details

The bill would cover accommodations such as more-frequent or longer breaks, equipment modifications, seating requests, modified work schedules and temporary reassignments to less-strenuous work duties. According to state Rep. Joni Jenkins (D), the bill's sponsor, the legislation would set clear guidelines for both employers and employees (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/27).

In addition, the bill would require employers and other businesses to provide a designated location that is not a restroom for nursing mothers to breastfeed or pump.

Jenkins said the bill "protect[s] and support[s] workers when pregnant," and "also minimizes litigation, saves taxpayers money, and expands local economies" (SurfKy News, 2/26).


Okla. House Approves Bill Aimed at Banning Certain Abortions

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 20:17

The Oklahoma House on Thursday voted 84-2 to approve a bill (HB 1721) that would prohibit physicians from performing a certain abortion procedure, the AP/Tulsa World reports.

Okla. House Approves Bill Aimed at Banning Certain Abortions

March 2, 2015 — The Oklahoma House on Thursday voted 84-2 to approve a bill (HB 1721) that would prohibit physicians from performing a certain abortion procedure, the AP/Tulsa World reports. The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration (AP/Tulsa World, 2/26).

Background

Abortion-rights opponents say the measure would ban a procedure called dilation and evacuation. They are calling the procedure "dismemberment abortion," which physicians and supporters of abortion rights say is an incendiary and misleading phrase (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12). Similar legislation has been proposed in other states, including Missouri (HB 920) and Kansas (SB 95) (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/23). The bills are based off language provided by the National Right to Life Committee (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/10).

Under the Oklahoma measure, physicians who perform the procedure could face a $10,000 fine and up to two years in prison. The bill includes an exception for cases of serious risk to a woman's health (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12).

Okla. House Approves Bill Aimed at Banning Certain Abortions

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 16:55

The Oklahoma House on Thursday voted 84-2 to approve a bill (HB 1721) that would prohibit physicians from performing a certain abortion procedure, the AP/Tulsa World reports.

Okla. House Approves Bill Aimed at Banning Certain Abortions

March 2, 2015 — The Oklahoma House on Thursday voted 84-2 to approve a bill (HB 1721) that would prohibit physicians from performing a certain abortion procedure, the AP/Tulsa World reports. The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration (AP/Tulsa World, 2/26).

Background

Abortion-rights opponents say the measure would ban a procedure called dilation and evacuation. They are calling the procedure "dismemberment abortion," which physicians and supporters of abortion rights say is an incendiary and misleading phrase (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12). Similar legislation has been proposed in other states, including Missouri (HB 920) and Kansas (SB 95) (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/23). The bills are based off language provided by the National Right to Life Committee (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/10).

Under the Oklahoma measure, physicians who perform the procedure could face a $10,000 fine and up to two years in prison. The bill includes an exception for cases of serious risk to a woman's health (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/12).

Ore. Lawmakers Announce Comprehensive Women's Health Bill

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 16:17

A group of Oregon lawmakers on Friday announced legislation aimed at closing gaps in reproductive health care coverage for women in the state, the Portland Business Journal reports.

Ore. Lawmakers Announce Comprehensive Women's Health Bill

March 2, 2015 — A group of Oregon lawmakers on Friday announced legislation aimed at closing gaps in reproductive health care coverage for women in the state, the Portland Business Journal reports.

The measure, called the Comprehensive Women's Health Bill, would require all health plans in the state to cover abortion, contraceptives and maternity care. It would also require health plans to cover a twelve-month supply of birth control dispensed at one time. Democratic state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, Sen. Sara Gelser, Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer and Rep. Barbara Smith Warner said they will introduce the bill.

Michele Stranger Hunter, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon and the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health, said, "As states across the country are stripping women of reproductive health services and coverage, Oregon is making strides to ensure that [our] residents ... are healthy by providing a full range of reproductive health care."

Separately, Aimee Santos-Lyons, gender justice director at the Western States Center, urged Oregon lawmakers "to swiftly pass the Comprehensive Women's Health Bill," which will "fil[l] the gaps in our current laws so that Oregonians will be covered for [their] reproductive health needs regardless of income, how they are insured or where they live" (Thompson, Portland Business Journal, 2/27).


FDA Approves New Hormonal IUD

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 15:48

FDA on Friday approved the hormonal intrauterine device Liletta, which prevents pregnancy as effectively as sterilization for up to three years, Reuters reports.

FDA Approves New Hormonal IUD

March 2, 2015 — FDA on Friday approved the hormonal intrauterine device Liletta, which prevents pregnancy as effectively as sterilization for up to three years, Reuters reports.

The device is already used in Europe and is expected to be available in the U.S. in the next few months.

Device Details

Liletta prevents pregnancy by releasing levonorgestrel, a hormone that stops the uterine lining from thickening. The device also can be used to address heavy menstrual bleeding.

Under the FDA approval, a woman can use Liletta for up to three years before a replacement is necessary. A large trial is underway to determine if it could be used for up to seven years.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives, which include IUDs and implants, are more effective at preventing pregnancy than birth control pills and patches. Some IUDs are effective for up to 12 years.

Liletta will be marketed in the U.S. by Medicines360. Other IUDs available in the U.S. include Bayer AG's Mirena and Skyla hormonal IUDs and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' Paragard copper IUD (Kareen Nair/Grover, Reuters, 2/27).


House Cancels Plans To Vote on Education Bill With Antiabortion-Rights Amendment

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 15:43

House lawmakers on Friday canceled plans to vote on an education bill (HR 5) that included a provision that would withhold federal funding from school districts where school-based health centers provide abortion-related information, Politico reports.

House Cancels Plans To Vote on Education Bill With Antiabortion-Rights Amendment

March 2, 2015 — House lawmakers on Friday canceled plans to vote on an education bill (HR 5) that included a provision that would withhold federal funding from school districts where school-based health centers provide abortion-related information, Politico reports (Severns, Politico, 2/27).

According to CQ Roll Call, several factors contributed to House leaders' decision to delay the vote, including lawmakers' desire to prioritize consideration of funding for the Department of Homeland Security, growing conservative opposition to certain provisions and uncertainty over whether the measure would pass. House lawmakers had finished working on the underlying bill and amendments (Phenicie, CQ Roll Call, 2/27).

Democrats opposed the bill, and President Obama has said he would veto it if it reaches his desk, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Hefling, AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/27).

Background

House conservatives used a "manager's amendment" to add the abortion-related language to the Student Success Act, which aims to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act (PL 107-110). Manager's amendments typically are used to make uncontroversial tweaks to legislation.

The amendment, authored by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), would require school-based health centers in school districts that receive federal funding to certify that they do not provide information to students about abortion or perform abortions, even though school-based health centers already do not provide abortion services.

In addition, the bill would prohibit the health centers from providing students with "abortion related materials, referrals or directions" (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/27).

Next Steps

Senior Republican officials said they were not sure when a vote on the bill might occur, the AP/Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/27).

House Education and Workforce Committee Chair John Kline (R-Minn.) said he "expect[s]" that House lawmakers "will have an opportunity to finish this important work soon." Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), chair of the committee's Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, said he is "confident" that lawmakers "will continue this effort in the coming weeks" (CQ Roll Call, 2/27).

Meanwhile, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Rep. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are working on their own legislation to overhaul NCLB (AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/27).


Neb. Senate Rejects Medicaid Family Planning Expansion Bill

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 15:19

The Nebraska Senate on Thursday voted 23-21 against a bill (LB 77) that would have made health screening and contraceptive services more accessible to low-income women, NET reports.

Neb. Senate Rejects Medicaid Family Planning Expansion Bill

March 2, 2015 — The Nebraska Senate on Thursday voted 23-21 against a bill (LB 77) that would have made health screening and contraceptive services more accessible to low-income women, NET reports (Knapp, NET, 2/26).

Background

The measure, proposed by state Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, would have allowed Nebraska women with family incomes of up to 185% of the federal poverty level to access Medicaid services for family planning and health screenings. In addition, Nordquist's measure would have allotted about $500,000 in fiscal year 2015-2016 and FY 2016-2017 for outreach, education and preventive services for medically underserved women.

Twenty-nine states have federal approval for similar Medicaid family planning programs (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/12).

Legislative fiscal staff predicted the bill could have saved the state $13 million annually.

Debate

Nordquist said, "This is a surefire, evidence-based, practiced-in-29-states way to reduce Medicaid costs" (Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald, 2/26).

State Sen. Mark Kolterman, who opposed the measure, said the bill "deals with something that [he has] fundamentally ... opposed for a number of years, and that's the federal government paying for contraception."

Nordquist said, "[W]e aren't forcing anything on anybody here .... If somebody has a moral objection to contraception, that woman doesn't have to use it by any means" (NET, 2/26).


Ky. House Approves Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 14:51

The Kentucky House on Thursday voted 95-0 to approve a bill (HB 218) that would require businesses to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, the AP/Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

Ky. House Approves Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act

March 2, 2015 — The Kentucky House on Thursday voted 95-0 to approve a bill (HB 218) that would require businesses to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, the AP/Lexington Herald-Leader reports (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/27).

The bill, called the Kentucky Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act, now heads to the state Senate for consideration (Wilkerson, SurfKy News, 2/26).

Bill Details

The bill would cover accommodations such as more-frequent or longer breaks, equipment modifications, seating requests, modified work schedules and temporary reassignments to less-strenuous work duties. According to state Rep. Joni Jenkins (D), the bill's sponsor, the legislation would set clear guidelines for both employers and employees (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/27).

In addition, the bill would require employers and other businesses to provide a designated location that is not a restroom for nursing mothers to breastfeed or pump.

Jenkins said the bill "protect[s] and support[s] workers when pregnant," and "also minimizes litigation, saves taxpayers money, and expands local economies" (SurfKy News, 2/26).


Featured Blogs

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 20:07

"Oregon Bill Would Ensure Coverage for Reproductive Health Care, Abortions" (Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check, 2/26); "The Cost of Getting an Abortion is Higher if You're Poor" (Dusenbery, Feministing, 2/26).

February 27, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"Oregon Bill Would Ensure Coverage for Reproductive Health Care, Abortions," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check: Oregon lawmakers on Thursday proposed legislation that "would make Oregon the first state in the nation to ensure every state resident is covered for every type of reproductive health care, including abortion, under all forms of insurance," Liss-Schultz writes. According to Liss-Schultz, the bill is "part of a larger progressive legislative effort ... that will also tackle sexual assault and domestic violence issues." Specifically, the bill would require all insurers to "cover contraception, abortion, prenatal care, childbirth, and postpartum care, including breast-feeding support and folic acid without prescription," she explains. Further, she writes that the bill would bar insurers "from imposing cost-sharing for abortions at more than 10 percent of the cost of the procedure"; prohibit "deductibles for abortions ... altogether"; and "strengthe[n] and protec[t] existing abortion coverage under [the Oregon Health Plan] by removing it from the annual budget and codifying such coverage" (Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check, 2/26).

What others are saying about the abortion rights movement:

~ "Texans Demand 'Trust. Respect. Access.' From Lawmakers on Reproductive Health," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.

~ "76-Year-Old Texas Man Bikes 300 Miles To Raise Money for Planned Parenthood," Jenny Kutner, Salon.

FEATURED BLOG

"The Cost of Getting an Abortion is Higher if You're Poor," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing: Dusenbery highlights two recent analyses that demonstrate how "[w]hen trying to get an abortion ... it's very expensive to be poor." She writes that a Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress" report "estimates that 'the process of obtaining an abortion'" in Wisconsin, which has fewer than five abortion clinics and mandates that women take "two trips to the clinic to get an abortion" could be "'up to $1,380 for a low-income single mother saddled with charges related to gas, a hotel stay, childcare, and taking time off work.'" By comparison, she notes the analysis found that the cost would be about $590 "[f]or a middle-income woman living comfortably in a city with no children and public transit options to the clinic," which is not "even accounting for the fact that the middle-income woman might have insurance that covers the procedure, while the low-income woman's Medicaid definitely won't." Dusenbery adds that a recent RH Reality Check analysis found that "the abortion price tag for a poor woman living in Texas's Rio Grande Valley is similar: up to $1,599, not to mention a seven-hour round-trip drive" (Dusenbery, Feministing, 2/26).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Arkansas Governor Signs Telemedicine Abortion Ban," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.

Va. Budget Compromise Excludes Two Antiabortion-Rights Amendments

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 19:48

Virginia General Assembly budget negotiators over the weekend agreed on a compromise plan that does not include two antiabortion-rights amendments from the state House budget proposal, the Washington Post reports.

Va. Budget Compromise Excludes Two Antiabortion-Rights Amendments

February 27, 2015 — Virginia General Assembly budget negotiators over the weekend agreed on a compromise plan that does not include two antiabortion-rights amendments from the state House budget proposal, the Washington Post reports (Vozzella, Washington Post, 2/25).

Both chambers of the state Legislature approved the budget on Thursday, sending it to Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) (Vozzella, Washington Post, 2/26).

The state House budget proposal had included an amendment (4-5.04 #2h), proposed by state Delegate Steve Landes (R), that would have barred the state's Medicaid program from covering abortions in cases of serious fetal anomalies. The state Medicaid program currently covers abortions in those instances, in addition to cases of rape or incest.

The budget negotiators also agreed not to include an amendment (4-5.04 #6h), proposed by state Del. Robert Marshall (R), that was aimed at preventing McAuliffe from easing certain abortion clinic regulations (Washington Post, 2/25).

The Virginia Board of Health in December voted 13-2 to begin a process to revise several onerous abortion clinic regulations. The process is expected to take up to two years, and the current rules will remain in place in the meantime (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/5/14).