Daily Women's Health Policy Report

Syndicate content
Daily Women's Health Policy Report by the National Partnership for Women & Families
Updated: 16 min 34 sec ago

'Political Intrusion on Exam Rooms' Must Stop, Op-Ed States

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 16:13

"There is a trend across the country that deeply concerns us and our fellow health-care advocates and providers: political intrusion on exam rooms," Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, and Charles Cutler, former chair of the American College of Physicians Board of Regents, write in a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece.

'Political Intrusion on Exam Rooms' Must Stop, Op-Ed States

July 29, 2014 — "There is a trend across the country that deeply concerns us and our fellow health-care advocates and providers: political intrusion on exam rooms," Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, and Charles Cutler, former chair of the American College of Physicians Board of Regents, write in a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece.

Ness and Cutler explain that several "states have considered or enacted laws that mandate bad medicine, undermining the relationships between patients and health-care providers." These laws regulate what providers can or must say to patients about abortion, gun safety, environmental hazards and other topics. For example, a Pennsylvania law mandates that "providers offer women irrelevant and unnecessary information designed to discourage them from seeking an abortion."

Ness and Cutler write, "Interference like this has to stop, and there is a chance to make that happen here in Pennsylvania." The Pennsylvania legislation, called the Patient Trust Act (HB 2303), "was recently introduced by Sen. Mike Stack [D] as part of the Pennsylvania Women's Health Agenda" and is "expected to be introduced in the House this week by Rep. Dan Frankel [D]," they explain.

The bill would "help ensure that health-care providers are not required to give their patients information that is medically inaccurate or, conversely, prohibited from giving them information that is appropriate and accurate," they write, adding that it would "also help ensure that providers are not required to deliver care that is inconsistent with evidence-based medical standards, or prevented from delivering care that adheres to such standards."

Ness and Cutler argue that enacting the legislation "would be an important step toward protecting the patient-provider relationship and ensuring that politics don't trump high-quality health care" (Cutler/Ness, Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/28).


Blogs Comment on 'Bad Science' in Women's Health Policy, Midterm Election, More

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 15:17

We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from The Hill, the Huffington Post & more.

Blogs Comment on 'Bad Science' in Women's Health Policy, Midterm Election, More

July 29, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from The Hill, the Huffington Post & more.

WOMEN'S HEALTH: "Debunking the Bad Science on Abortion and Women's Health," Andrea Flynn, The Hill's "Contributors": During a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing "on the Women's Health Protection Act [S 1696], a bill that would prevent unnecessary restrictions on abortions and abortion providers," opponents of the measure "used overblown and often incorrect claims to drive home the familiar message that abortion is dangerous, bad for women and shouldn't be considered part of women's healthcare," Flynn, a Roosevelt Institute fellow, writes. For example, Flynn notes that Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) "asserted that women who have abortions are more likely to get breast cancer, a truly outrageous suggestion considering it has been thoroughly invalidated by the medical establishment." Individuals "testifying against the WHPA seemed to imply that it's all sunshine and roses for women who forgo abortions," while neglecting to "acknowledg[e] that by nearly every measure, pregnancy -- the abortion alternative heralded by anti-choice advocates -- carries greater health risks, particularly for young women and women with unintended pregnancies," Flynn adds. She concludes, "In the face of tireless attacks on reproductive rights, it is important to revisit those claims, set the record straight and remind the opposition of the real health threats facing too many U.S. families" (Flynn, "Contributors," The Hill, 7/25.)

What others are saying about women's health:

~ "Why are Politicians Ignoring This Maternal Health Act?" Timoria McQueen, Huffington Post blogs.

CONTRACEPTION: "Most Female Voters Say They Won't Support Politicians Who Back Hobby Lobby," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "The majority of female voters don't want to vote for politicians who support Hobby Lobby's move to drop coverage for some forms of contraceptives, according to a new poll conducted by Hart Research Associates," Culp-Ressler writes. She writes that according to the survey, 57% of respondents said "they'd be more likely to support a candidate who opposes allowing employers to drop birth control coverage, and about half of them said they feel 'very strongly' about that preference." She notes, "It's obviously too early to tell exactly how much impact the Hobby Lobby decision will have on the midterm elections, but it's clear that Democrats are looking to make it a key issue," while "Republican strategists are trying to counter the party's 'War on Women' image" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/25).

What others are saying about contraception:

~ "IUD Inside," Karen Cordano, Huffington Post blogs.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Pennsylvania Law Requires Doctors To Read Scripts to Pregnant Patients With Prenatal Down Syndrome Diagnoses (Updated)," Tara Murtha, RH Reality Check: "A new law in Pennsylvania mandates that doctors read a script to pregnant patients after delivering the diagnosis of prenatal Down syndrome," Murtha writes. She explains that the law will take effect 60 days after it was signed on July 18 and that the materials will include "'up-to-date, evidence-based information about Down syndrome,' including 'physical, developmental, educational and psychosocial outcomes,' life expectancy, and 'any other information the [state Department of Health] deems necessary.'" However, Murtha writes that because the script is still under development, "there is no way to assess if the materials are biased, or comply with scientific consensus -- which is not always the case when it comes to government-mandated physician scripts, especially when the targeted patients are pregnant women." Meanwhile, two state lawmakers this week introduced a bill, called the Patient Trust Act (HB 2303) responding to state laws that "that force providers to practice medicine in a way that is not in line with basic medical standards," she adds (Murtha, RH Reality Check, 7/25).

SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES: "Times Have Changed for American Families. It's Time for Policies To Change, Too," Judith Warner, Huffington Post blogs: "[T]he 'culture wars' of the end of the 20th century, which pitted working moms against stay-at-home moms and old-fashioned family values against the evils of modern-day homes, are over," Warner writes, citing research showing that a majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents last year "said they thought it was important for Congress and the White House to devote attention to family-friendly policies." Nonetheless, "changed attitudes have not translated into changed policies," Warner notes, adding that a majority of U.S. residents say that "they, their neighbors, and their friends experience hardship in balancing work, family, and professional responsibilities." It is "time to take the next step" by "putting realistic plans into action" so women do not "have to choose between pursuing a career and having a family," she argues (Warner, Huffington Post blogs, 7/28).

What others are saying about supporting working families:

~ "Paid Leave Encourages Female Employees To Stay," Claire Cain Miller, New York Times' "The Upshot."

GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT: "Take a Look at the Blog That is Going To Help End Rape Culture," Jenny Kutner, Salon: Kutner writes about the blog "I Believe You | It's Not Your Fault," started by writer Lindy West to help women and girls who have been sexually harassed or assaulted "hea[r] from someone else who has been through a similar experience, and gai[n] the tools and vocabulary" they need "to understand that the harassment [they] experienced was not unique -- but that it was also not okay, nor the result of anything" they did. Kutner explains that people write letters to the blog to share their stories and also tell women "exactly" what they need to hear: "I believe you. It's not your fault." In an interview with Kutner, West said, "These issues are so massive, entrenched, and seemingly immovable, they really breed a sense of hopelessness," adding, "So getting the chance to actually DO something -- even if it's as small as telling stories and answering questions -- feels hugely comforting" (Kutner, Salon, 7/28).

What others are saying about gender-based violence and harassment:

~ "'Even If You Don't Like It, You're Supposed to Appear That You Do,'" Noah Berlatsky, The Atlantic.

~ "One Simple Solution To Make Sure Colleges Start Taking Rape Seriously," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."


Abortion-Rights Groups Rethink 'Pro-Choice' Label To Broaden Message

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 14:20

Abortion-rights groups are gradually moving away from the term "pro-choice" in favor of a broader message that better encompasses the many health and economic issues that affect women, the New York Times reports.

Abortion-Rights Groups Rethink 'Pro-Choice' Label To Broaden Message

July 29, 2014 — Abortion-rights groups are gradually moving away from the term "pro-choice" in favor of a broader message that better encompasses the many health and economic issues that affect women, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, abortion-rights supporters adopted the phrase "pro-choice" around the time of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling as a way to counter abortion-rights opponents' term "pro-life." Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other groups that support abortion rights began to shift away from the phrase around 2010, when the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) took effect, which included many provisions affecting women's health care, and Republicans made gains in state legislatures.

Public Opinion

Women's groups and Democrats conducted a series of polls and found that many female voters, especially younger women, do not identify with the term pro-choice. Some polls suggested that women preferred the term "pro-life," even though they also said they support Roe. Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the political advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood, explained the contradiction by saying that the self-identified pro-life voters were "talking about their personal decision-making, for themselves, and not about what they want to push on others."

The poll findings also demonstrated the "weakness of the pro-choice label," with Planned Parenthood conducting research on public attitudes through 2011 and sharing the findings with other abortion-rights groups, the Times reports.

According to the Times, "[n]o pithy phrase has replaced" the term pro-choice. Instead, abortion-rights groups are discussing a range of policies grouped under phrases such as "women's health" and "economic security."

Comments

PPFA President Cecile Richards said that the shift away from the term pro-choice "is something that we have been talking about for several years," adding that the "'pro-choice' language doesn't really resonate particularly with a lot of young women voters." She said that PPFA is "really trying to focus on, what are the real things you are going to lose" because of women's health restrictions, ranging from personal rights to economic losses or "access to health care for you or for your kids."

Similarly, Marcy Stech, a spokesperson for EMILY's List, said, "When you really look at the broad scope of all the Republicans' attacks, it's clear 'women's health' is what's at stake" (Calmes, New York Times, 7/28).


Roe v. Wade 'Effectively Undone' in Much of Texas, Washington Post Editorial Argues

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 14:17

"[P]ro-life groups and lawmakers are negating" the effects of Roe v. Wade with restrictive state laws, including a "frontal assault" on abortion providers in Texas, a Washington Post editorial argues.

Roe v. Wade 'Effectively Undone' in Much of Texas, Washington Post Editorial Argues

July 29, 2014 — "[P]ro-life groups and lawmakers are negating" the effects of Roe v. Wade with restrictive state laws, including a "frontal assault" on abortion providers in Texas, a Washington Post editorial argues.

The Texas legislation (HB 2) has reduced the number of the state's clinics by more than half, and many "of the surviving clinics are expected to close this fall" after more provisions take effect, according to the Post.

"The new requirements have nothing to do with improving women's health or enhancing the safety of clinics, which are already quite safe," the editorial argues. Rather, "their sole purpose is to burden the clinics with expenses that force them to shut their doors," it adds.

"In the absence of adequate numbers of legal and accessible abortion providers, many women will resort to unsafe and unsanitary options closer to home," according to the editorial.

"Very possibly, some women will die as a result; most of these will be poor," the editorial says, concluding that Roe "has been effectively undone by the [Texas] legislature" in much of the state (Washington Post, 7/28).


Tenn. Campaigns Prepare for November Battle Over Abortion Rights

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 14:15

Supporters and opponents of a Tennessee ballot initiative (SJR 127) that would change the state's constitutional language regarding abortion are preparing to rapidly increase their efforts over the next few months, Nashville Public Radio reports.

Tenn. Campaigns Prepare for November Battle Over Abortion Rights

July 29, 2014 — Supporters and opponents of a Tennessee ballot initiative (SJR 127) that would change the state's constitutional language regarding abortion are preparing to rapidly increase their efforts over the next few months, Nashville Public Radio reports (Allyn, Nashville Public Radio, 7/28).

Background

In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court said that the state constitution guarantees women in the state a fundamental right to abortion. The judges in their opinion wrote, "A woman's right to terminate her pregnancy is a vital part of the right to privacy guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution."

If it passes in November, Amendment 1 would amend the state constitution to include the statement, "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion" (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/15). According to the Jackson Sun, the amendment also would impose a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could obtain an abortion, as well as new inspection and regulation requirements for abortion facilities (Manna, Jackson Sun, 7/27).

Campaign Efforts

The opposing sides of the amendment have raised almost $1 million collectively, and there are expectations that millions more will be raised.

Campaigns will involve canvassing, distributing mailers and launching advertisements. Both sides have been waiting until after the August primary to launch the campaigns, according to Nashville Public Radio (Nashville Public Radio, 7/28).

In the meantime, Director of the Vote No on One campaign and Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee President and CEO Jeff Teague said, "We've been ... getting [volunteers] trained so they can be warriors in this fight this fall" (Bruck, WRCB, 7/26).


Hobby Lobby Ruling 'Upended' Religious Freedom, Curtails Health Care, Op-Ed States

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 14:12

The Supreme Court's ruling in Hobby Lobby has "upended" the longstanding "concept of 'religious freedom'" in the U.S. and opened the door to "an alarming haggling over rights that previously had been set," writes blogger Amanda Marcotte in an opinion piece for USA Today.

Hobby Lobby Ruling 'Upended' Religious Freedom, Curtails Health Care, Op-Ed States

July 29, 2014 — The Supreme Court's ruling in Hobby Lobby has "upended" the longstanding "concept of 'religious freedom'" in the U.S. and opened the door to "an alarming haggling over rights that previously had been set," writes blogger Amanda Marcotte in an opinion piece for USA Today.

Marcotte explains that religious freedom in the U.S. has for "many decades" meant that people "were allowed to worship how they saw fit but strongly restricted when it came to imposing [their] views on other people, lest they trample on someone else's religious freedom." However, the Supreme Court's ruling "changed things, expanding Hobby Lobby's religious freedom so widely that the religious freedom of their employees to use their own benefits how they see fit is ... subject to restrictions based on [their] employer's beliefs," Marcotte writes.

Marcotte writes that this new model of religious freedom has spurred "a growing crop of fundamentalists [who] are demanding that the religious freedom of patients to make their own decisions about health care should be curtailed, allowing providers to push their own agenda on them."

For example, Marcotte cites the case of a nurse-midwife who is suing a clinic in Florida for allegedly refusing to hire her "because of her religious objections to contraception." Marcotte explains that the allegations are "simply untrue" and that the clinic did not hire the nurse because "she broadcast her eagerness to use this position to foist her own religious views on unsuspecting patients, and to deprive them of their religious freedom to make their own choices by refusing to prescribe contraception for them."

Similarly, Marcotte writes that the National Women's Law Center in 2012 identified "a semi-coordinated campaign across the country of Christian pharmacists exploiting the power they have to deny women access to contraception." Marcotte adds, "The problem has grown so serious that Walgreens put out an official statement in 2013 making it clear that pharmacists who refuse to sell contraception are violating company policy."

"In Hobby Lobby v Burwell, Justice Alito specifically said that just because Hobby Lobby would be allowed to foist its anti-contraception agenda onto employees doesn't mean future employers would be able to foist, say, an anti-vaccine agenda," Marcotte writes. However, she writes that when "some people's religious 'freedom' requires restricting the religious freedom of others, it's hard to avoid concluding that conservative Christians are the ones who will demand the right to foist their beliefs and the rest of us are going to see our very basic right to be left alone to make our own choices trickle away" (Marcotte, USA Today, 7/25).


Boston Globe Editorial Urges Activists To Delay Judgment on 'Buffer Zone' Replacement Law

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 14:09

The Massachusetts "Legislature last week took a big step toward addressing the US Supreme Court's objections to the state's 'buffer-zone' law" when both the state "House and Senate ... passed bills (S 2283) that would give police new powers to curb obstruction and harassment outside abortion clinics while allowing peaceful protests," according to a Boston Globe editorial.

Boston Globe Editorial Urges Activists To Delay Judgment on 'Buffer Zone' Replacement Law

July 29, 2014 — The Massachusetts "Legislature last week took a big step toward addressing the US Supreme Court's objections to the state's 'buffer-zone' law" when both the state "House and Senate ... passed bills (S 2283) that would give police new powers to curb obstruction and harassment outside abortion clinics while allowing peaceful protests," according to a Boston Globe editorial.

The editorial explains, "The new law would allow police to order protestors to withdraw if they impede access to a clinic." In such a case, "a protestor would have to stay at least 25 feet from the building for up to eight hours, or until the end of the clinic's business day." While some antiabortion-rights activists believe "the bill is too restrictive," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans "said it creates clear guidelines for easier enforcement."

The editorial calls the legislation "a sensible bill that balances the need for safety and free access to clinics with the rights of protestors" and urges "[b]oth sides" of the debate to "wait and see how it works in practice before rushing to judgment" (Boston Globe, 7/27).


Okla. Abortion Restrictions Face Likely Legal Challenge, But Supporters, Opponents Dispute Outcomes

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 16:21

Oklahoma lawmakers who championed antiabortion-rights legislation that is scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1 expressed confidence on Thursday that the measures would withstand likely legal challenges, while abortion-rights supporters argued that the laws will be overturned, The Oklahoman reports.

Okla. Abortion Restrictions Face Likely Legal Challenge, But Supporters, Opponents Dispute Outcomes

July 28, 2014 — Oklahoma lawmakers who championed antiabortion-rights legislation that is scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1 expressed confidence on Thursday that the measures would withstand likely legal challenges, while abortion-rights supporters argued that the laws will be overturned, The Oklahoman reports. According to the Oklahoman, other lawsuits have successfully challenged the abortion restrictions in the state in the past.

New Restrictions

According to The Oklahoman, one (SB 1848) of the new laws would require abortion providers in the state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (Green, The Oklahoman, 7/25). The measure also requires the state health board to develop operational standards for clinics that perform abortions (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/29).

A second measure (HB 2684) would require physicians in the state to administer medication abortion drugs according to FDA protocol. The second bill was written in direct response to a state Supreme Court decision that struck down a similar state law as unconstitutional because it effectively banned all medication abortion in the state (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/17). The state's high court also said in the ruling that 96% of medication abortion is prescribed in a regimen that differs from FDA's protocol, noting that "medical research and advances do not stop upon a particular drug's approval by the FDA."

Lawmakers, Abortion-Rights Supporters Dispute Court Outcomes

State Sen. Greg Treat (R) said that while a legal challenge is likely, "I think we are on safe legal ground, and that it is very defensible, although I can't say unequivocally, because when it goes to a courtroom, you never know what an individual judge could rule."

Meanwhile, Amanda Allen, state legislative council for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the admitting privileges and clinics standards legislation attempts to make it harder for a woman to find an abortion clinic and as such, other legal challenges have said such measures place an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

She added that the new medication abortion bill does "not clear the constitutional defect ... because the highest court in the state of Oklahoma made very clear that FDA labeling is not intended to preclude physicians from using their best medical judgment." CRR was involved in the previous medication abortion legislation but has not made a decision on whether to challenge the current law, Allen said (The Oklahoman, 7/25).


Fla. Judge Issues Temporary Injunction Against Planned Parenthood Clinic

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 16:20

The Osceola County Court in Florida on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction against a Planned Parenthood clinic located in Kissimmee, Fla., after a neighboring property owner filed complaints that the clinic was violating property restrictions, the Osceola News-Gazette reports.

Fla. Judge Issues Temporary Injunction Against Planned Parenthood Clinic

July 28, 2014 — The Osceola County Court in Florida on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction against a Planned Parenthood clinic located in Kissimmee, Fla., after a neighboring property owner filed complaints that the clinic was violating property restrictions, the Osceola News-Gazette reports.

According to the News-Gazette, MMB Properties -- which owns a medical office building in Oak Commons Medical Park -- asked the court for a permanent injunction against the Planned Parenthood clinic in June.

MMB's complaint alleged that the clinic was performing three practices -- operating as an outpatient surgical center, an emergency medical center and a diagnostic imaging center -- that are prohibited within the medical park under the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. In addition, the complaint said that protests targeting the clinic have disrupted the medical businesses inside MMB's building and spurred complaints from patients.

The court on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction, barring the clinic from offering abortion services or any other outpatient surgical services or emergency medical services. According to the News-Gazette, the injunction will hold until the trial date on the case, which has yet to be scheduled.

Comments

Jenna Tosh, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, said that the organization will appeal the ruling. "Planned Parenthood will continue providing essential reproductive health services at our new Kissimmee Health Center, and we will continue to do everything we can to protect women's access to care," Tosh said.

Separately, Anna Eskamani, director of external affairs for PPGO, said that Planned Parenthood was aware of the restrictions when it purchased the clinic and had determined after due diligence that services offered by the clinic did not violate the medical park's contract restrictions.

Eskamani added that while the injunction halts abortion services at the clinic, it does not prevent the clinic from offering the majority of services it provides (Reynolds, Osceola News-Gazette, 7/24).


Louisiana Antiabortion-Rights Advocates File Suit Against State To Publicize Abortion Records

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 16:20

A lawsuit announced during an antiabortion-rights protest at a Louisiana clinic seeks access to mandatory reports that detail all pregnancies terminated in the state, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

Louisiana Antiabortion-Rights Advocates File Suit Against State To Publicize Abortion Records

July 28, 2014 — A lawsuit announced during an antiabortion-rights protest at a Louisiana clinic seeks access to mandatory reports that detail all pregnancies terminated in the state, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. The protest was organized by Operation Save America in front of the Delta Clinic, an abortion provider in Baton Rouge. The clinic was closed that day.

By law, Louisiana physicians must fill out "The Report of Induced Termination of Pregnancy" for each woman who undergoes an abortion. The records do not use patient names, but rather a code number, and are used to calculate abortion statistics.

According to the Advocate, the suit asks the state Department of Health and Hospitals to make the records public. Antiabortion-rights protester Richard Mahoney, who announced the suit, said it stems from the department's refusal to make public records he requested three years ago. The department responded to the request in 2011, noting that state law prohibits the disclosure of patient data gathered from physicians.

Mahoney said that the information contained in the reports, which would include how many minors have received abortions and how many abortions led to complications in the state, could cause the state's remaining abortion clinics to close. He added that copies of the reports that he found in clinic trash bins led him to believe that the reports had been completed before physicians actually saw patients.

State DHH spokesperson Olivia Watkins in an email Thursday said the department is reviewing a copy of the lawsuit (Ballard, Baton Rouge Advocate, 7/27).


Gov. Christie Has Moved Steadily To Restrict Access To Abortion, Bloomberg Reports

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 16:19

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday at the National Governors Association said Republicans needed to reshape how they promote and discuss abortion and other social issues without altering their antiabortion-rights stance, even as he works to restrict the procedure in his own state, Bloomberg reports.

Gov. Christie Has Moved Steadily To Restrict Access To Abortion, Bloomberg Reports

July 28, 2014 —New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday at the National Governors Association said Republicans needed to reshape how they promote and discuss abortion and other social issues without altering their antiabortion-rights stance, even as he works to restrict the procedure in his own state, Bloomberg reports.

Christie -- a possible candidate for the White House in 2016 -- said at NGA's summer conference on Friday that people "want folks who are authentic and who believe what they say is true, but also who are tolerant and willing to listen to other points of view."

Christie's Antiabortion-Rights Stance

Christie has said that he opposes abortion except in instances of rape, incest or danger to the woman's life. He is the first New Jersey governor to publicly adopt an antiabortion-rights stance since the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, according to Bloomberg.

In 2009, when he first ran for governor, Christie called for officials to "work to reduce abortions in New Jersey through laws such as parental notification, a 24-hour waiting period and a ban on partial-birth abortion." However, according to Bloomberg, New Jersey's Democratic-controlled legislature has not moved a bill that would restrict abortion since Christie took office in 2009. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, New Jersey is second only to Maine in terms of abortion access in states with Republican governors.

Christie did cut $7.5 million from the state's 2011 budget that would have funded 58 clinics providing preventive and family planning services to low-income women.

State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) -- sponsor of legislation that would restore the funding -- said that six of the clinics closed within a year of the budget being approved. According to Bloomberg, Christie's stance has not necessarily alienated female voters. Christie won 56% of female voters in his 2013 re-election campaign against Barbara Buono, a Democrat who supports abortion rights.

Comments

Deb Huber, acting president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for Women, said that Christie "single-handedly defunded Planned Parenthood in New Jersey." She said that while Christie "doesn't brag about it in those terms ... wait until he runs for president" and voters "may hear those words coming out of his mouth."

Meanwhile, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) said, "Our legislature believes in pro-choice," adding that antiabortion-rights organizations "can organize and make their attempt to get the governor's support, but they won't have the legislature's support" (Young, Bloomberg, 7/28).

Poll: Women Plan To Vote on Opposition to Hobby Lobby

In related news, 57% of women said that they plan to vote for candidates in the midterm election who have voiced opposition to the Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby ruling, according to a new poll from Hart Research Associates, a Democratic polling firm, The Hill reports.

According to the poll, 72% of women said that the Hobby Lobby decision was somewhat or very important to them, with the ruling garnering more interest among younger, single and minority women. Overall, the poll found that 58% of women between the ages of 18 and 55 said that they oppose the ruling.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president at Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said, "This poll shows that women are focused on the Hobby Lobby ruling, they're angry about it, and they're going to vote based on it this November. The Hobby Lobby decision has lit a fuse that cannot be put out."

Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, said that while other polls have shown that Republicans have a slight lead for the Senate in the midterm elections, Democrats are "holding their own" and could potentially win in more competitive states with support from single women, The Hill reports (Al-Faruque, The Hill, 7/25).


Gov. Christie Has Moved Steadily To Restrict Access To Abortion, Bloomberg Reports

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 15:23

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday at the National Governors Association said Republicans needed to reshape how they promote and discuss abortion and other social issues without altering their antiabortion-rights stance, even as he works to restrict the procedure in his own state, Bloomberg reports.

Gov. Christie Has Moved Steadily To Restrict Access To Abortion, Bloomberg Reports

July 28, 2014 —New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday at the National Governors Association said Republicans needed to reshape how they promote and discuss abortion and other social issues without altering their antiabortion-rights stance, even as he works to restrict the procedure in his own state, Bloomberg reports.

Christie -- a possible candidate for the White House in 2016 -- said at NGA's summer conference on Friday that people "want folks who are authentic and who believe what they say is true, but also who are tolerant and willing to listen to other points of view."

Christie's Antiabortion-Rights Stance

Christie has said that he opposes abortion except in instances of rape, incest or danger to the woman's life. He is the first New Jersey governor to publicly adopt an antiabortion-rights stance since the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, according to Bloomberg.

In 2009, when he first ran for governor, Christie called for officials to "work to reduce abortions in New Jersey through laws such as parental notification, a 24-hour waiting period and a ban on partial-birth abortion." However, according to Bloomberg, New Jersey's Democratic-controlled legislature has not moved a bill that would restrict abortion since Christie took office in 2009. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, New Jersey is second only to Maine in terms of abortion access in states with Republican governors.

Christie did cut $7.5 million from the state's 2011 budget that would have funded 58 clinics providing preventive and family planning services to low-income women.

State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) -- sponsor of legislation that would restore the funding -- said that six of the clinics closed within a year of the budget being approved. According to Bloomberg, Christie's stance has not necessarily alienated female voters. Christie won 56% of female voters in his 2013 re-election campaign against Barbara Buono, a Democrat who supports abortion rights.

Comments

Deb Huber, acting president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for Women, said that Christie "single-handedly defunded Planned Parenthood in New Jersey." She said that while Christie "doesn't brag about it in those terms ... wait until he runs for president" and voters "may hear those words coming out of his mouth."

Meanwhile, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) said, "Our legislature believes in pro-choice," adding that antiabortion-rights organizations "can organize and make their attempt to get the governor's support, but they won't have the legislature's support" (Young, Bloomberg, 7/28).

Poll: Women Plan To Vote on Opposition to Hobby Lobby

In related news, 57% of women said that they plan to vote for candidates in the midterm election who have voiced opposition to the Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby ruling, according to a new poll from Hart Research Associates, a Democratic polling firm, The Hill reports.

According to the poll, 72% of women said that the Hobby Lobby decision was somewhat or very important to them, with the ruling garnering more interest among younger, single and minority women. Overall, the poll found that 58% of women between the ages of 18 and 55 said that they oppose the ruling.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president at Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said, "This poll shows that women are focused on the Hobby Lobby ruling, they're angry about it, and they're going to vote based on it this November. The Hobby Lobby decision has lit a fuse that cannot be put out."

Stan Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, said that while other polls have shown that Republicans have a slight lead for the Senate in the midterm elections, Democrats are "holding their own" and could potentially win in more competitive states with support from single women, The Hill reports (Al-Faruque, The Hill, 7/25).


Lack of Awareness, Uneven Implementation Hamper Laws Aiming To Prevent Shackling of Imprisoned Pregnant Women, Column Argues

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 15:07

Shackling pregnant inmates during and after labor can be a "threat to the health of both mother and child," yet it remains "a multistate problem," Audrey Quinn, a multimedia journalist who covers health, science and the economy, writes in a New York Times opinion piece.

Lack of Awareness, Uneven Implementation Hamper Laws Aiming To Prevent Shackling of Imprisoned Pregnant Women, Column Argues

July 28, 2014 — Shackling pregnant inmates during and after labor can be a "threat to the health of both mother and child," yet it remains "a multistate problem," Audrey Quinn, a multimedia journalist who covers health, science and the economy, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. The practice "is common," Quinn argues, citing a Correctional Association of New York study to be released in September that found 23 of 27 surveyed women reported being shackled before, during or after their delivery.

Twenty-one states have laws preventing shackling, but they vary, and Quinn writes there is "evidence of negligence in the implementation of these laws across the country" and that "isn't the only problem."

"The language of some of the laws gives wide latitude to corrections officers to use restraints if they identify security risks," which "creates opportunities for the continuation of shackling," Quinn writes.

Quinn cites several examples of pregnant inmates who had been wrongfully shackled during labor in states that have anti-shackling laws like California, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. According to Quinn, "in many correctional systems, doctors, guards and prison officials simply are not told about anti-shackling laws, or are not trained to comply."

Most prominent, she writes, is a case involving Nevada inmate Valerie Nabors. Nevada prohibits restraints during labor and delivery. When Nabors went into labor, she was taken to a hospital via ambulance with her hands cuffed and ankles shackled together. The ambulance supervisor had protested the shackling, noting that medical personnel would not be able to help Nabors if there were complications during transport, and a nurse at the hospital also questioned the use of restraints.

Nabors' restraints were removed only after a delivery room nurse insisted, but within 10 minutes of having an emergency caesarean section, her ankles were shackled and she was restrained to the hospital bed. Nabors "suffered several pulled muscles" and "X-rays revealed a separation of her pubic bones," which her physician said "were a direct result of the restraints."

Nabors, who was awarded $130,000 in a settlement after suing the state, is a rare case as "[v]ictims of illegal shackling rarely litigate, often because of feelings of shame or fear of repercussions," Quinn cautions (Quinn, New York Times, 7/26).


Louisiana Antiabortion-Rights Advocates File Suit Against State To Publicize Abortion Records

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 14:27

A lawsuit announced during an antiabortion-rights protest at a Louisiana clinic seeks access to mandatory reports that detail all pregnancies terminated in the state, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

Louisiana Antiabortion-Rights Advocates File Suit Against State To Publicize Abortion Records

July 28, 2014 — A lawsuit announced during an antiabortion-rights protest at a Louisiana clinic seeks access to mandatory reports that detail all pregnancies terminated in the state, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. The protest was organized by Operation Save America in front of the Delta Clinic, an abortion provider in Baton Rouge. The clinic was closed that day.

By law, Louisiana physicians must fill out "The Report of Induced Termination of Pregnancy" for each woman who undergoes an abortion. The records do not use patient names, but rather a code number, and are used to calculate abortion statistics.

According to the Advocate, the suit asks the state Department of Health and Hospitals to make the records public. Antiabortion-rights protester Richard Mahoney, who announced the suit, said it stems from the department's refusal to make public records he requested three years ago. The department responded to the request in 2011, noting that state law prohibits the disclosure of patient data gathered from physicians.

Mahoney said that the information contained in the reports, which would include how many minors have received abortions and how many abortions led to complications in the state, could cause the state's remaining abortion clinics to close. He added that copies of the reports that he found in clinic trash bins led him to believe that the reports had been completed before physicians actually saw patients.

State DHH spokesperson Olivia Watkins in an email Thursday said the department is reviewing a copy of the lawsuit (Ballard, Baton Rouge Advocate, 7/27).


Okla. Abortion Restrictions Face Likely Legal Challenge, But Supporters, Opponents Dispute Outcomes

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 13:11

Oklahoma lawmakers who championed antiabortion-rights legislation that is scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1 expressed confidence on Thursday that the measures would withstand likely legal challenges, while abortion-rights supporters argued that the laws will be overturned, The Oklahoman reports.

Okla. Abortion Restrictions Face Likely Legal Challenge, But Supporters, Opponents Dispute Outcomes

July 28, 2014 — Oklahoma lawmakers who championed antiabortion-rights legislation that is scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1 expressed confidence on Thursday that the measures would withstand likely legal challenges, while abortion-rights supporters argued that the laws will be overturned, The Oklahoman reports. According to the Oklahoman, other lawsuits have successfully challenged the abortion restrictions in the state in the past.

New Restrictions

According to The Oklahoman, one (SB 1848) of the new laws would require abortion providers in the state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (Green, The Oklahoman, 7/25). The measure also requires the state health board to develop operational standards for clinics that perform abortions (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/29).

A second measure (HB 2684) would require physicians in the state to administer medication abortion drugs according to FDA protocol. The second bill was written in direct response to a state Supreme Court decision that struck down a similar state law as unconstitutional because it effectively banned all medication abortion in the state (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/17). The state's high court also said in the ruling that 96% of medication abortion is prescribed in a regimen that differs from FDA's protocol, noting that "medical research and advances do not stop upon a particular drug's approval by the FDA."

Lawmakers, Abortion-Rights Supporters Dispute Court Outcomes

State Sen. Greg Treat (R) said that while a legal challenge is likely, "I think we are on safe legal ground, and that it is very defensible, although I can't say unequivocally, because when it goes to a courtroom, you never know what an individual judge could rule."

Meanwhile, Amanda Allen, state legislative council for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the admitting privileges and clinics standards legislation attempts to make it harder for a woman to find an abortion clinic and as such, other legal challenges have said such measures place an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

She added that the new medication abortion bill does "not clear the constitutional defect ... because the highest court in the state of Oklahoma made very clear that FDA labeling is not intended to preclude physicians from using their best medical judgment." CRR was involved in the previous medication abortion legislation but has not made a decision on whether to challenge the current law, Allen said (The Oklahoman, 7/25).


Fla. Judge Issues Temporary Injunction Against Planned Parenthood Clinic

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 13:07

The Osceola County Court in Florida on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction against a Planned Parenthood clinic located in Kissimmee, Fla., after a neighboring property owner filed complaints that the clinic was violating property restrictions, the Osceola News-Gazette reports.

Fla. Judge Issues Temporary Injunction Against Planned Parenthood Clinic

July 28, 2014 — The Osceola County Court in Florida on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction against a Planned Parenthood clinic located in Kissimmee, Fla., after a neighboring property owner filed complaints that the clinic was violating property restrictions, the Osceola News-Gazette reports.

According to the News-Gazette, MMB Properties -- which owns a medical office building in Oak Commons Medical Park -- asked the court for a permanent injunction against the Planned Parenthood clinic in June.

MMB's complaint alleged that the clinic was performing three practices -- operating as an outpatient surgical center, an emergency medical center and a diagnostic imaging center -- that are prohibited within the medical park under the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. In addition, the complaint said that protests targeting the clinic have disrupted the medical businesses inside MMB's building and spurred complaints from patients.

The court on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction, barring the clinic from offering abortion services or any other outpatient surgical services or emergency medical services. According to the News-Gazette, the injunction will hold until the trial date on the case, which has yet to be scheduled.

Comments

Jenna Tosh, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, said that the organization will appeal the ruling. "Planned Parenthood will continue providing essential reproductive health services at our new Kissimmee Health Center, and we will continue to do everything we can to protect women's access to care," Tosh said.

Separately, Anna Eskamani, director of external affairs for PPGO, said that Planned Parenthood was aware of the restrictions when it purchased the clinic and had determined after due diligence that services offered by the clinic did not violate the medical park's contract restrictions.

Eskamani added that while the injunction halts abortion services at the clinic, it does not prevent the clinic from offering the majority of services it provides (Reynolds, Osceola News-Gazette, 7/24).


Featured Blogs

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 16:59

"Anti-Choice Protests Target New Orleans Clinics, Homes, Churches" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 7/24) and "Number of Texas Women Living 200 Miles From an Abortion Clinic Has Jumped by 2,800 Percent" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/23).

July 25, 2014

FEATURED BLOG

 "Anti-Choice Protests Target New Orleans Clinics, Homes, Churches," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: "In the first few days of planned protests in New Orleans, anti-choice activists have disrupted the community by targeting reproductive health-care clinics, personal residences, and even houses of worship in the hopes of intimidating abortion providers and reproductive rights supporters," Wilson writes. Wilson explains that the protests, organized through Operation Save America, target "two New Orleans clinics that provide abortion care, a construction site where a Planned Parenthood facility is being built, and the home of a physician who is an abortion provider," among other locations. The protests "have focused primarily on harassing the staff, volunteers, and patients of reproductive health-care clinics," Wilson writes, adding that the protests "come in the wake of legislative efforts to reduce access to reproductive health care in Louisiana" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 7/24).

What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:

~ "Anti-Choice Groups Seek to Stack State Courts," Zoe Greenberg, RH Reality Check.

~ "I Scream, You Scream, the Anti-Choice Crowd Is Mad About Ice Cream," Madeleine Davies, Jezebel.

FEATURED BLOG

 "Number of Texas Women Living 200 Miles From an Abortion Clinic Has Jumped by 2,800 Percent," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": The omnibus antiabortion-rights package (HB 2) approved in Texas a "year ago this month" has "wreaked havoc on reproductive health access in the state, and half of Texas' clinics have been forced to shut down," writes Culp-Ressler, citing research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. According to TPEP's research, "the new abortion law is compromising women's ability to exercise their right to choose," as demonstrated by a "13 percent decline in the legal abortion rate in the Lone Star State," Culp-Ressler writes. She adds that because the rate is "steeper than the recent declines in the number of abortions observed across other states," it suggests that "the decreased access to clinics is preventing some Texas women from being able to have the medical procedure," an unsurprising finding given that "the number of women of reproductive age who live at least 200 miles away from an abortion clinic has skyrocketed by 2,800 percent -- jumping from 10,000 women in 2013 to 290,000 women in 2014." Culp-Ressler adds, "[I]t's important to remember that the new report focuses solely on legal abortions obtained in clinics, and doesn't reflect the number of women who may be resorting to illegal means of ending a pregnancy" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/23).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "The Onion's Brilliant Take on Abortion Restrictions Will Make You Laugh/Sob," Katie McDonough, Salon.

~ "Super-Restrictive Ireland Abortion Laws Are Violating Women's Rights, and the UN Knows It," Lauren Barbato, Bustle.





NYT's 'Op-Talk' Blog Highlights Debate Over 'Personhood' Laws

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 16:56

New York Times columnist Anna Altman in an "Op-Talk" piece highlights the conflicting sides of the debate over "so-called personhood laws," which often "recognize fetuses, embryos and fertilized eggs as persons who are separate" from the women who carry them.

NYT's 'Op-Talk' Blog Highlights Debate Over 'Personhood' Laws

July 25, 2014 — New York Times columnist Anna Altman in an "Op-Talk" piece highlights the conflicting sides of the debate over "so-called personhood laws," which often "recognize fetuses, embryos and fertilized eggs as persons who are separate" from the women who carry them.

According to Altman, while personhood laws vary in the 38 states that have them, they mostly "seek to protect this category of persons, whether from strangers or from the" women themselves. Altman writes, "Causing especially intense controversy are laws targeting substance abuse during pregnancy," noting a few recent examples of women who were incarcerated for using illicit drugs while pregnant. Tennessee Rep. Terri Weaver (R) -- who sponsored a personhood measure (SB 1391) that permits a pregnant woman to be charged with a criminal offense if she uses illicit drugs -- said "these defenseless children deserve some protection and these babies need a voice."

During an NPR "Fresh Air" segment exploring the issue last year, Barbara Levy of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists detailed potential issues with such laws. She said, "I understand the concern about the unborn fetus," but "the very best outcome for the unborn fetus is to treat the mom and the baby as a unit." She added that it is extremely important "to get the best care for the mom. That means she has to be comfortable and free to seek care without concern that she will be placed in jail."

Meanwhile, Kylee Sunderlin, a Soros Justice fellow at National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told Altman that incarceration can place extra burdens "on women who may be already struggling." Altman also discusses the experience of Deborah Jiang-Stein, whose own mother had substance use issues and gave birth to Jiang-Stein while in prison. Jiang-Stein, who wrote a recent Washington Post opinion piece describing her experience, has said that "addiction is a physical and mental health disease, and not a criminal justice problem."

Critics of the laws say that while the measures are "ostensibly intended to safeguard children," they "are making it harder for their mothers to care for them," Altman concludes (Altman, "Op-Talk," New York Times, 7/23).


N.Y. Will Allow Medicaid Reimbursements for Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives for New Mothers

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 16:55

New York has joined five other states in making it easier for new mothers in the Medicaid program to access long-acting reversible contraceptives after giving birth, NPR's "Shots" reports.

N.Y. Will Allow Medicaid Reimbursements for Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives for New Mothers

July 25, 2014 — New York has joined five other states in making it easier for new mothers in the Medicaid program to access long-acting reversible contraceptives after giving birth, NPR's "Shots" reports. Under a policy change announced last week, women participating in the fee-for-service portion of the program can receive coverage for LARCs immediately after giving birth.

According to "Shots," most states' Medicaid programs will not reimburse physicians for delivering a newborn and administering LARCs during a single visit. Women can receive Medicaid coverage for LARCs at a six-week post-partum appointment, but "Shots" reports that many women are much less likely to obtain contraception at that point.

New York City Assistant Health Commissioner Deborah Kaplan said the state's "bottom line priority" is to get rid of barriers to contraceptive access. Kaplan added, "We want women to have the options and then [work] with their provider to make the best decision with all the information available" (Farrington, "Shots," NPR, 7/23).


Blogs Comment on Annual Pelvic Exams, Equal Rights Act, More

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 16:43

We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from The Nation, Ms. Magazine and more.

Blogs Comment on Annual Pelvic Exams, Equal Rights Act, More

July 25, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from The Nation, Ms. Magazine and more.

WOMEN'S HEALTH: "Do Healthy Women Need Annual Pelvic Exams?" Rachel Walden, OurBodies OurSelves' "Our Bodies, Our Blog": "More than 60 million pelvic exams are performed each year, but a new guideline from the American College of Physicians suggests that for most healthy women, they're not needed," Walden writes, noting "that the recommendations apply only to 'average risk' adult women who are not pregnant and who do not have any symptoms, such as pelvic pain, which might mean there is a problem such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, other pelvic organ problems, or infection." During a review of prior exam guidelines, ACP "considered whether the harms of the pelvic exam are outweighed by the benefits, and whether these vary by patient or provider characteristics." The group found there was no existing data supporting their effectiveness and recommended "against routine pelvic exams." However, Walden notes that the "American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists responded to the recommendation by urging women to continue to see their healthcare providers each year for well-woman visits," which "can sometimes include a pelvic exam, but are also an opportunity to get medication refills, review your medical history, have age-appropriate screenings and immunizations, and discuss other concerns with your provider" (Walden, "Our Bodies, Our Blog," OurBodies OurSelves, 7/24).

REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: "We're Arresting Poor Mothers for Our Own Failures," Bryce Covert, The Nation: Covert discusses the cases of Shanesha Taylor, "who was arrested for leaving her children in the car while she went to a job interview," and Debra Harrell, a "South Carolina mother arrested for letting her 9-year-old daughter play in a park alone while she worked her shifts at McDonalds." She writes that while "[n]either of these are ideal situations for children," none of them was harmed, and questions who is really at fault for the children being "put in these situations to begin with?" Covert notes, "These weren't mothers doing drugs or other dangerous activities and neglecting their children; they were both mothers trying to hold down jobs to provide for their children while stuck swirling in a Catch-22": not being able to "work or interview without childcare" and not being able to "afford childcare without a job that pays enough to cover the ever-increasing cost." Covert concludes, "Low-income mothers of color are trying to fulfill their end of the bargain. But they face multiple roadblocks, many of which we've set up in front of them. No one should be surprised when they end up making choices we don't think are best" (Covert, The Nation, 7/22).

ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Anti-Choice Protests Target New Orleans Clinics, Homes, Churches," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: "In the first few days of planned protests in New Orleans, anti-choice activists have disrupted the community by targeting reproductive health-care clinics, personal residences, and even houses of worship in the hopes of intimidating abortion providers and reproductive rights supporters," Wilson writes. Wilson explains that the protests, organized through Operation Save America, target "two New Orleans clinics that provide abortion care, a construction site where a Planned Parenthood facility is being built, and the home of a physician who is an abortion provider," among other locations. The protests "have focused primarily on harassing the staff, volunteers, and patients of reproductive health-care clinics," Wilson writes, adding that the protests "come in the wake of legislative efforts to reduce access to reproductive health care in Louisiana" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 7/24).

What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:

~ "Anti-Choice Groups Seek to Stack State Courts," Zoe Greenberg, RH Reality Check.

~ "I Scream, You Scream, the Anti-Choice Crowd Is Mad About Ice Cream," Madeleine Davies, Jezebel.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Number of Texas Women Living 200 Miles From an Abortion Clinic Has Jumped by 2,800 Percent," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": The omnibus antiabortion-rights package (HB 2) approved in Texas a "year ago this month" has "wreaked havoc on reproductive health access in the state, and half of Texas' clinics have been forced to shut down," writes Culp-Ressler, citing research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. According to TPEP's research, "the new abortion law is compromising women's ability to exercise their right to choose," as demonstrated by a "13 percent decline in the legal abortion rate in the Lone Star State," Culp-Ressler writes. She adds that because the rate is "steeper than the recent declines in the number of abortions observed across other states," it suggests that "the decreased access to clinics is preventing some Texas women from being able to have the medical procedure," an unsurprising finding given that "the number of women of reproductive age who live at least 200 miles away from an abortion clinic has skyrocketed by 2,800 percent -- jumping from 10,000 women in 2013 to 290,000 women in 2014." Culp-Ressler adds, "[I]t's important to remember that the new report focuses solely on legal abortions obtained in clinics, and doesn't reflect the number of women who may be resorting to illegal means of ending a pregnancy" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/23).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "The Onion's Brilliant Take on Abortion Restrictions Will Make You Laugh/Sob," Katie McDonough, Salon.

~ "Super-Restrictive Ireland Abortion Laws Are Violating Women's Rights, and the UN Knows It," Lauren Barbato, Bustle.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN/RAPE/SEXUAL HARASSMENT: "The Disturbing Reason Why Some Rape Kits Are Tested While Others Aren't," Mindy Townsend, Care2: It is "hard to blame anyone for not reporting a rape," and "[i]t certainly doesn't help that," according to the Department of Justice, "there are an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits in cities across the country," Townsend writes. However, what "makes the whole situation even more problematic" is that "law enforcement ... is prioritizing 'classic' rape cases -- stranger rape, violent rape -- over the vast majority of cases, which means that the vast majority of victims are being left without justice." She concludes, "Think of how many rapes could have been avoided if we just took sexual assault seriously to begin with and stopped giving preferential treatment to only a certain type of rape" (Townsend, Care 2, 7/22).

What others are saying about violence against women/rape/sexual harassment:

~ "NFL Will Bench You Longer for Driving With No License Than Violently Assaulting Women," Katie McDonough, Salon.

~ "World's Most Famous College Marching Band Fires Director, Was a Cesspool of Sexual Harassment," Judd Legum, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

~ "Montana Judge Censured for Suggesting Teenage Rape Victim Partly to Blame for Attack," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.

EQUAL RIGHTS: "It's Been 90 Years: Time To Pass the ERA," Stephanie Hallett, Ms. Magazine blog: "Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court Thursday morning to demand that the Equal Rights Amendment finally pass," Hallett writes. She adds that the lawmakers, joined by Feminist Majority Foundation President Ellie Smeal, "NOW President Terry O'Neill and other feminist leaders and activists, called on legislators to codify women's equality in the constitution." She notes that both Speier and Maloney have introduced legislation to enact the ERA, Speier through legislation (H.J. Res. 113) that would allow the states that failed to ratify the amendment by its last deadline in 1982 to do so now, and Maloney through a resolution (H.J. Res. 56) that would reintroduce the ERA and submit it to states for ratification. "Ninety years is long enough -- it's time to pass the ERA," Hallett writes (Hallett, Ms. Magazine blog, 7/24).

What others are saying about equal rights:

~ "After Hobby Lobby, Democratic Legislators Push Anew for Equal Rights Amendment," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check.