Daily Women's Health Policy Report

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Daily Women's Health Policy Report by the National Partnership for Women & Families
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Presidential Memorandum, Report Target College Sexual Assaults

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 18:16

President Obama on Wednesday signed a presidential memorandum to create a task force of administration officials to address sexual assaults on college campuses, the New York Times reports.

Presidential Memorandum, Report Target College Sexual Assaults

January 23, 2014 — President Obama on Wednesday signed a presidential memorandum to create a task force of administration officials to address sexual assaults on college campuses, the New York Times reports (Calmes, New York Times, 1/22).

The task force has 90 days to develop recommendations for colleges to prevent and respond to sexual assaults, boost public awareness on schools' records for handling such incidents and improve coordination among federal agencies to hold schools accountable if they do not address the problem (Pickler, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/23).

Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women's Law Center, said, "I think it will really help prod colleges, universities and law enforcement to finally start treating sexual assault with the seriousness it deserves." She added, "Ninety days is an aggressive time frame, but this is a problem that deserves an aggressive time frame" (Emma, Politico, 1/22).

Obama also said the nation must prioritize encouraging men to intervene in and report sexual assaults. "I want every young man in America to feel some strong peer pressure in terms of how they are supposed to behave and treat women," he said (New York Times, 1/22).

White House Report: Risk of Sexual Assault Highest for College Women

The task force announcement was made in conjunction with the release of a report called "Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action," by the White House Council on Women and Girls.

The report states that college women are at a higher risk of rape and other sexual assault than any other group in the U.S. According to the report, one in five women are sexually assaulted at college, but just 12% report the assaults (Jackson, USA Today, 1/22).

The report noted that assaults often happen at parties and that perpetrators typically know the victim and commit multiple offenses. For example, one study cited in the report found that 7% of college men said they have attempted rape, with 63% of those men saying they had committed multiple offenses, averaging six rapes per man (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/23).

The report also identifies some health concerns for sexual assault survivors, noting that they have an increased risk of mental health and physical illnesses, including anxiety, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (USA Today, 1/22).

In addition, the report criticizes the criminal justice system's response to sexual assaults, attributing low arrest rates to police bias and a lack of training on investigating and prosecuting sex crimes. It recommends the federal government promote officer training, help police conduct more DNA testing and follow a plan to increase arrest, prosecution and conviction rates (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/23).


Blogs Comment on HR 7, Roe Anniversary, Economic Security, More

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 18:15

We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from the Center for American Progress, Care2 and more.

Blogs Comment on HR 7, Roe Anniversary, Economic Security, More

January 21, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from the Center for American Progress, Care2 and more.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Congressman's New Jobs Plan: Deny Women Access to Abortion So They Can Make More Babies," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "During a debate over an anti-abortion bill [HR 7] currently advancing in Congress, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) suggested that Republicans support restricting access to abortion because it will ultimately benefit the economy if women have more children," writes Culp-Ressler, adding that the bill would "dramatically restrict women's access to affordable abortion care by imposing restrictions on insurance coverage and tax credits for the procedure." Culp-Ressler argues, "In reality, denying women autonomy over their reproductive lives is not a wise economic policy," adding that "[w]ithout access to affordable family planning services, women are less likely to be able to finish their education, advance their career, or achieve financial independence." She also cites a Guttmacher Institute study that found the government saves $5 for every $1 it invests in family planning services (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 1/15).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "5 Absurd Reasons Why Conservatives Want To Force Women To Give Birth," Robin Marty, Care2.

~ "'Protective' States? How Anti-Abortion Organizations Patronize and Infantilize Women," Marty, Care2.

~ "Kentucky Lawmaker Attempts To Define Abortion as Domestic Violence," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check.

ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: "'Roe v. Wade' Let Me Become a Mother," Sarah Erdreich, RH Reality Check: "[T]oo often abortion is talked about as something entirely separate from the rest of the reproductive care continuum," which "has helped perpetuate the myth that abortion is something so rare and repugnant that no rational and compassionate woman would ever choose it," Erdreich writes. She adds, "Such a narrow, judgmental conversation does no one any favors, and ignores the positive ways in which the entire spectrum of reproductive rights affects personal lives and helps create healthy families." She notes that "only since Roe, women and men have been able to plan their lives with the assumption that they won't become parents until or unless they want to." Erdreich continues, "Like millions of women, having control of all my reproductive choices has meant being able to complete my education, participate fully in the workplace, and establish a solid relationship with my partner before becoming a parent" (Erdreich, RH Reality Check, 1/20).

What others are saying about the Roe anniversary:

~ "41 Years of Fighting Over Roe," Martha Burk, Huffington Post blogs.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "Supreme Court Will Decide on Re-Arming Domestic Abusers," Gaylynn Burroughs, Ms. Magazine blog: The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case, United States v. Castleman, that "could limit the effectiveness of the [1996 Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban (PL 104208)] and place domestic violence victims further at risk," writes Burroughs, director of policy and research at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She explains, "If the Supreme Court upholds the lower courts' interpretation of the gun ban, it will immensely cripple the law and the protection it affords" because "none of the abusers convicted under [state misdemeanor assault and battery laws] would be subject to the gun ban if their convictions did not specifically mention 'physical force.'" She continues, "There is no reason to wait for an abuser to exhibit 'strong and violent force,' as the lower courts would have us do, before we prevent that abuser from owning a firearm" (Burroughs, Ms. Magazine blog, 1/16).

What others are saying about violence against women:

~ "Stripping Parental Rights From Rapists May Be One Place Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Can Agree," Marty, Care2.

~ "Meet Dick Black, Who Thinks Husbands Can't Rape Their Wives and is Running for Congress," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."

WOMEN'S ECONOMIC SECURITY: "Marital Status Doesn't Cause Poverty -- Not Having Money Does," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check: "[G]rowing income inequality and startling statistics ... are making the discussion of economic justice unavoidable," but "conservatives have decided to blame a favorite scapegoat -- women who make sexual choices they disagree with -- for the 'choice' not to get married," Marcotte writes. She notes that the "strangest thing about the attacks on single women, especially single mothers, is how much conservatives seem to believe that women are actively avoiding marriage." She adds that people are poor "[b]ecause they don't have enough money" and that people are single because they "don't have anyone suitable to be married to," not because there is "a widespread marriage boycott organized by welfare offices, feminists, or some combination of the two" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 1/20).

What others are saying about women's economic security:

~ "The Shriver Report and Access to Breast Cancer Care," Judith Salerno, Huffington Post blogs.

GENDER RATING: "Four Major Insurers Accused of Discriminating Against Women in Long-Term Care Plans," Sy Mukherjee, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Mukherjee comments on "sex discrimination complaints" being filed by the National Women's Law Center "against four of the largest American insurance companies for discriminating against women in their long-term care insurance plans." The suit accuses the insurers of charging women more than men for the policies, thus violating the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) "protections barring sex discrimination in insurance plans," he explains. While the "long-term care industry has long maintained" the provisions do not apply to them, NWLC argues that "this form of discrimination only exacerbates the financial strains of the lifetime of wage discrimination that most women experience," Mukherjee writes (Mukherjee, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 1/16).


Midterm Election Victories Could Hinge on Abortion Issues, Groups Say

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 18:14

Abortion rights are an "unexpectedly animating issue" in the 2014 election cycle, as both Democrats and Republicans strategize about how the debate could help their party win control of Congress, the New York Times reports.

Midterm Election Victories Could Hinge on Abortion Issues, Groups Say

January 21, 2014 — Abortion rights are an "unexpectedly animating issue" in the 2014 election cycle, as both Democrats and Republicans strategize about how the debate could help their party win control of Congress, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, abortion restrictions are becoming the "focus of debate" in key congressional races -- such as those in North Carolina and Colorado -- where the outcome could help tilt control of the U.S. House or Senate.

Republican Strategy

According to the Times, Republicans at both the state and federal levels are working to advance antiabortion-rights legislation by framing the issue in an "economic context," which they hope will help link the issue to their opposition to the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148).

Republicans in some states are arguing that the ACA allows the use of public funds for abortion coverage, and GOP members of the House are working to pass legislation (HR 7) in the coming weeks that restricts abortion coverage under the ACA.

Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs for March for Life, said, "For a lot of [GOP] members politically [abortion] ties into the issue they want to be talking about this election, which is Obamacare."

Likewise, Jeff Jimerson -- an organizer for a petition in Oregon that would ban the use of state funds for abortion in most situations -- said, "We don't make this a pro-life thing ... This is a pro-taxpayer thing. There are a lot of libertarians in Oregon, people who don't really care what you do, just don't make me pay for it."

Democratic Strategy

Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to boost female voter participation in the mid-term election -- which typically draws lower voter turnout, especially among women -- by portraying their GOP counterparts as "callous" on women's health issues, the Times reports.

According to the Times, Democrats have built targeting models that predict an individual voter's position on women's health issues. This strategy helped the party in a recent gubernatorial win in Virginia, as well as electoral victories in 2012.

For 2014, Democrats hope that campaigning around abortion restrictions in North Carolina and other key states could help them make the same sort of orchestrated attacks that propelled their win in Virginia.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said, "You have lower turnout [during midterm elections], and a lot of drop-off voters are women. So in a lot of ways, making sure women are aware and voting is important" (Peters, New York Times, 1/20).


Guidance Needed To Clarify Preventive Care Coverage Under ACA, Experts Say

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 18:13

Although the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) requires health plans to cover many preventive services without cost-sharing, some patients are facing bills and other challenges when obtaining such care, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post reports.

Guidance Needed To Clarify Preventive Care Coverage Under ACA, Experts Say

January 22, 2014 — Although the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) requires health plans to cover many preventive services without cost-sharing, some patients are facing bills and other challenges when obtaining such care, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post reports.

The ACA requires health plans to cover many preventive services without consumer cost-sharing, including services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, many vaccines and a slate of women's health services. The requirements apply to all health plans except those that have been grandfathered under the law and those that qualify for religious exemptions under the federal contraceptive coverage rules.

Barriers to Contraception Access

The federal contraceptive coverage rules require most health plans to cover "the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods, including, but not limited to, barrier methods, hormonal methods, and implanted devices." However, a Guttmacher Institute study found that a number of plans exclude coverage for the contraceptive ring and patch.

Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at Guttmacher who wrote the report, said insurers are "claiming that [the methods are] the same hormones as the pills, so it's the same method."

An HHS official wrote in an email, "The pill, the ring and the patch are different types of hormonal methods," adding, "It is not permissible to cover only the pill, but not the ring or the patch."

Calls for Clarification

Advocates and policy experts are urging HHS to issue more guidance on how various preventive services should be covered.

The lack of clarity has led to instances of patients being billed for costs related to services and procedures that should be covered, according to American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Associate Director of Federal Relations Mona Shah.

The problem often is related to how services are coded for billing purposes, Shah explained. For example, a specific procedure might be covered, but related anesthesia and facility fees are not (Andrews, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post, 1/20).




On Roe Anniversary, Both Sides Grapple With Legislative, Judicial Realities

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 18:12

On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, abortion-rights supporters and opponents are assessing their strategies in light of this year's midterm election and judicial responses to recent abortion restrictions.

On Roe Anniversary, Both Sides Grapple With Legislative, Judicial Realities

January 22, 2014 — On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, abortion-rights supporters and opponents are assessing their strategies in light of this year's midterm election and judicial responses to recent abortion restrictions.

GOP Control of State Legislatures Could Impede Democratic Efforts

Republicans hold the governorship and control both legislative chambers in 23 states, meaning that even if those states elect more Democrats this year, they likely cannot repeal the "record-setting" number of abortion restrictions passed since 2010, the National Journal reports.

According to a recent Guttmacher Institute report, more antiabortion-rights laws were enacted since the 2010 elections -- when Republicans won majorities in many states -- than in the entire previous decade.

Guttmacher's Elizabeth Nash said, "The pendulum swung so far to the right in the 2010 midterm that it will start swinging back in 2014, but this isn't the year of repeal."

Nonetheless, Democratic challengers in states with particularly competitive gubernatorial races -- Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin -- are campaigning heavily on abortion-rights issues, partly because the strategy has been seen as successful in other states. For example, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's (D) nine-point lead among women over his challenger on Election Day has been partly attributed to his attacks against the outgoing governor's antiabortion-rights stance.

However, even if Democrats win the governorships in those states, the Republican Party will still control both legislative chambers in all six states, the National Journal reports (Reinhard, National Journal, 1/21).

Abortion-Rights Opponents Mull Effectiveness of Incremental Strategy

Meanwhile, abortion-rights opponents in states that have passed numerous incremental restrictions on abortion are debating whether to maintain that approach or push farther-reaching legislation and risk court rulings that could endanger previous gains, the AP/U-T San Diego reports.

According to the AP/U-T San Diego, antiabortion-rights lawmakers in Republican-controlled states are under pressure to take more-drastic steps.

For example, lawmakers in Kansas -- which has enacted numerous incremental antiabortion-rights laws -- have recently proposed more-sweeping restrictions, including a bill that would ban abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detectable and one that would grant "inalienable rights" from the moment of conception. However, some antiabortion-rights leaders are concerned such measures could ultimately result in damaging rulings from state courts or even the Supreme Court.

Jennifer Mason, communications director for Personhood USA, said the debate over what approach to take "is nationwide right now," adding, "Many of my peers are frustrated with the past 40 years of an incremental approach."

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansas for Life, said in favor of the incremental approach, "You have to take the public with you ... Or you risk backlash that puts you in a worse position than when you started" (Crary/Hanna, AP/U-T San Diego, 1/21).




President Obama Affirms Support for Roe as House Plans Vote on Antiabortion Bills

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 18:11

President Obama in a statement Wednesday commemorated the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade by reaffirming "the decision's guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health," USA Today's "The Oval" reports.

President Obama Affirms Support for Roe as House Plans Vote on Antiabortion Bills

January 23, 2014 — President Obama in a statement Wednesday commemorated the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade by reaffirming "the decision's guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health," USA Today's "The Oval" reports (Jackson, "The Oval," USA Today, 1/22).

"We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman's access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom," he said, adding that his administration resolves "to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children" (Sink, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/22).

House GOP Pledges To Pass Antiabortion-Legislation

Meanwhile, House Republicans on Wednesday pledged to pass antiabortion-rights legislation this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a speech during the annual March for Life said the chamber will vote next week on an antiabortion-rights bill (HR 7) (Ballhaus, Wall Street Journal, 1/22). However, he acknowledged that bill likely faces an uphill battle in the Senate (Attias, CQ Roll Call, 1/22).

The bill includes several restrictions on abortion coverage, including a ban on the use of federal tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) by individuals who purchase health plans that include abortion coverage, as well as small businesses that offer such plans to their employees (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/16).

Cantor said another "top priority" this year is passing legislation that would ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy (Wall Street Journal, 1/22).

March for Life Attempts More 'Genteel' Tone

In related news, this year's March for Life focused on the theme of adoption and generally featured more "genteel messages" in an attempt to shift away from the movement's typically graphic slogans and imagery, the New York Times' "The Lede" reports.

Rick Santorum, a former GOP senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 presidential candidate, said the movement is now one "of love, not of judgment." Meanwhile, Pope Francis in a tweet offered his support for the rally (Southall, "The Lede," New York Times, 1/22).

Columnist: Antiabortion-Rights Stance Threatens GOP

"[L]ong before they make abortion illegal, Republicans will make themselves irrelevant, by choosing abortion bills over jobs bills and by validating Democratic claims of a GOP 'war on women,'" Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank writes.

He notes that while the "antiabortion faithful" assemble "year after year" at the March for Life, the nation's overall stance on abortion has remained relatively unchanged, based on polling data.

He adds that while conservatives have "made progress in states limiting access to abortion" -- with more than "50 such laws enacted" in 2013 -- the Supreme Court just last week "reaffirmed Roe in rejecting an Arizona law [HB 2036] that blocked abortions after 20 weeks" (Milbank, Washington Post, 1/22).


President Obama Affirms Support for Roe as House Plans Vote on Antiabortion Bills

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 15:15

President Obama in a statement Wednesday commemorated the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade by reaffirming "the decision's guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health," USA Today's "The Oval" reports.

President Obama Affirms Support for Roe as House Plans Vote on Antiabortion Bills

January 23, 2014 — President Obama in a statement Wednesday commemorated the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade by reaffirming "the decision's guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health," USA Today's "The Oval" reports (Jackson, "The Oval," USA Today, 1/22).

"We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman's access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom," he said, adding that his administration resolves "to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children" (Sink, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/22).

House GOP Pledges To Pass Antiabortion-Legislation

Meanwhile, House Republicans on Wednesday pledged to pass antiabortion-rights legislation this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in a speech during the annual March for Life said the chamber will vote next week on an antiabortion-rights bill (HR 7) (Ballhaus, Wall Street Journal, 1/22). However, he acknowledged that bill likely faces an uphill battle in the Senate (Attias, CQ Roll Call, 1/22).

The bill includes several restrictions on abortion coverage, including a ban on the use of federal tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) by individuals who purchase health plans that include abortion coverage, as well as small businesses that offer such plans to their employees (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/16).

Cantor said another "top priority" this year is passing legislation that would ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy (Wall Street Journal, 1/22).

March for Life Attempts More 'Genteel' Tone

In related news, this year's March for Life focused on the theme of adoption and generally featured more "genteel messages" in an attempt to shift away from the movement's typically graphic slogans and imagery, the New York Times' "The Lede" reports.

Rick Santorum, a former GOP senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 presidential candidate, said the movement is now one "of love, not of judgment." Meanwhile, Pope Francis in a tweet offered his support for the rally (Southall, "The Lede," New York Times, 1/22).

Columnist: Antiabortion-Rights Stance Threatens GOP

"[L]ong before they make abortion illegal, Republicans will make themselves irrelevant, by choosing abortion bills over jobs bills and by validating Democratic claims of a GOP 'war on women,'" Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank writes.

He notes that while the "antiabortion faithful" assemble "year after year" at the March for Life, the nation's overall stance on abortion has remained relatively unchanged, based on polling data.

He adds that while conservatives have "made progress in states limiting access to abortion" -- with more than "50 such laws enacted" in 2013 -- the Supreme Court just last week "reaffirmed Roe in rejecting an Arizona law [HB 2036] that blocked abortions after 20 weeks" (Milbank, Washington Post, 1/22).


Presidential Memorandum, Report Target College Sexual Assaults

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 14:57

President Obama on Wednesday signed a presidential memorandum to create a task force of administration officials to address sexual assaults on college campuses, the New York Times reports.

Presidential Memorandum, Report Target College Sexual Assaults

January 23, 2014 — President Obama on Wednesday signed a presidential memorandum to create a task force of administration officials to address sexual assaults on college campuses, the New York Times reports (Calmes, New York Times, 1/22).

The task force has 90 days to develop recommendations for colleges to prevent and respond to sexual assaults, boost public awareness on schools' records for handling such incidents and improve coordination among federal agencies to hold schools accountable if they do not address the problem (Pickler, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/23).

Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women's Law Center, said, "I think it will really help prod colleges, universities and law enforcement to finally start treating sexual assault with the seriousness it deserves." She added, "Ninety days is an aggressive time frame, but this is a problem that deserves an aggressive time frame" (Emma, Politico, 1/22).

Obama also said the nation must prioritize encouraging men to intervene in and report sexual assaults. "I want every young man in America to feel some strong peer pressure in terms of how they are supposed to behave and treat women," he said (New York Times, 1/22).

White House Report: Risk of Sexual Assault Highest for College Women

The task force announcement was made in conjunction with the release of a report called "Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action," by the White House Council on Women and Girls.

The report states that college women are at a higher risk of rape and other sexual assault than any other group in the U.S. According to the report, one in five women are sexually assaulted at college, but just 12% report the assaults (Jackson, USA Today, 1/22).

The report noted that assaults often happen at parties and that perpetrators typically know the victim and commit multiple offenses. For example, one study cited in the report found that 7% of college men said they have attempted rape, with 63% of those men saying they had committed multiple offenses, averaging six rapes per man (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/23).

The report also identifies some health concerns for sexual assault survivors, noting that they have an increased risk of mental health and physical illnesses, including anxiety, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (USA Today, 1/22).

In addition, the report criticizes the criminal justice system's response to sexual assaults, attributing low arrest rates to police bias and a lack of training on investigating and prosecuting sex crimes. It recommends the federal government promote officer training, help police conduct more DNA testing and follow a plan to increase arrest, prosecution and conviction rates (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/23).


Ohio Abortion Clinic Ordered To Close Under State Law

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 14:52

The Ohio Department of Health on Friday ordered an abortion clinic to close after denying its request for reprieve from a state law on hospital transfer agreements, the AP/Sandusky Register reports.

Ohio Abortion Clinic Ordered To Close Under State Law

January 23, 2014 — The Ohio Department of Health on Friday ordered an abortion clinic to close after denying its request for reprieve from a state law on hospital transfer agreements, the AP/Sandusky Register reports (AP/Sandusky Register, 1/22).

Ohio law requires that ambulatory surgical facilities -- including abortion clinics -- have transfer agreements with local hospitals in case of emergencies. In September, provisions in the state budget took effect that require abortion clinics to secure the transfer agreements with private hospitals and prohibit them from making such arrangements with public hospitals, among other restrictions (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/17/13).

The clinic -- Women's Med Center in Sharonville, Ohio -- plans to appeal the ruling by Feb. 3. The clinic may be allowed to remain open during the appeal process.

Other Closings

An analysis cross-referencing U.S. Census data and abortion providers found that if Cincinnati's only other remaining clinic closes, the region will become the largest metropolitan area in the country without an abortion provider. Overall, the rules could soon reduce Ohio's 14 clinics to seven, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

According to the Enquirer, three clinics in the state -- located in Toledo, Cleveland and Akron -- closed last year for reasons mostly unrelated to the new rules. Two other clinics located in Mount Auburn and Dayton have requested special permission from the state to remain open, although the state has not yet responded.

Meanwhile, two other clinics -- one also located in Toledo and Women's Med Center in Sharonville -- petitioned for a special reprieve from the requirement. The Toledo center's petition is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 18.

Women's Med Center Ruling

In an email Friday, an Ohio Department of Health spokesperson wrote that because Women's Med Center has a "history of problems," the department "no longer has confidence that this ambulatory surgery facility will take necessary steps to operate in accordance with regulations."

In the final order Friday, Health Department Director Theodore Wymyslo said that the clinic failed to request approval for its two back-up doctors in 2012, both of whom had "credentialing and disciplinary issues." He wrote, "These issues could have directly affected the ability to have back-up physicians available, without interruption, to admit patients in order to provide for the timely and effective continuity of care in the event of an emergency."

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the ruling jeopardizes the likelihood that the Planned Parenthood clinic in Mount Auburn will be able to operate under a similar variance that it has requested (Peale/Thompson, Cincinnati Enquirer, 1/21).

Supporters of 'Heartbeat' Bill Launch Mailer

In related news, an Ohio antiabortion-rights group called Faith2Action is launching a mail campaign this week that targets Republican state lawmakers for failing to pass a measure that would ban abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, the AP/Washington Times reports.

The bill failed in 2012 after the state Senate's GOP leader blocked it from a vote, and a new effort is currently stalled in the Republican-controlled state House (AP/Washington Times, 1/21).


Women, Uninsured Less Likely To Be Transferred Among Hospitals, Study Finds

Thu, 01/23/2014 - 14:28

Female and uninsured hospital patients are less likely to be transferred to other facilities, contributing to health care disparities for the groups, according to a study published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, FierceHealthcare reports.

Women, Uninsured Less Likely To Be Transferred Among Hospitals, Study Finds

January 23, 2014 — Female and uninsured hospital patients are less likely to be transferred to other facilities, contributing to health care disparities for the groups, according to a study published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, FierceHealthcare reports.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, University of Iowa and University of Toronto examined nationwide data from 2010 on patients ages 18 through 64 who were diagnosed with biliary tract disease, chest pain, pneumonia, septicemia, and skin or subcutaneous infections.

The researchers compared the numbers of privately insured, publicly insured and uninsured patients who were transferred between acute care hospitals. In total, out of 315,748 patients discharged from 1,051 hospitals, transfer rates ranged from 1.3% of skin infection patients to 5.1% of septicemia patients.

Transfer Disparities

Women were significantly less likely than men to be transferred for all five diagnoses, the study found. In addition, the proportion of transferred uninsured patients was significantly lower than for insured patients for three of the five diagnoses.

Study lead author Janel Hanmer, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said the researchers had "hypothesized that uninsured patients would be more likely to be transferred as hospitals tried to punt these unprofitable cases to other hospitals in the areas."

However, the study "suggest[s] that perhaps both the uninsured and women are not being transferred when they should be," she said (Sullivan, FierceHealthcare, 1/21).


On Roe Anniversary, Both Sides Grapple With Legislative, Judicial Realities

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 15:19

On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, abortion-rights supporters and opponents are assessing their strategies in light of this year's midterm election and judicial responses to recent abortion restrictions.

On Roe Anniversary, Both Sides Grapple With Legislative, Judicial Realities

January 22, 2014 — On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, abortion-rights supporters and opponents are assessing their strategies in light of this year's midterm election and judicial responses to recent abortion restrictions.

GOP Control of State Legislatures Could Impede Democratic Efforts

Republicans hold the governorship and control both legislative chambers in 23 states, meaning that even if those states elect more Democrats this year, they likely cannot repeal the "record-setting" number of abortion restrictions passed since 2010, the National Journal reports.

According to a recent Guttmacher Institute report, more antiabortion-rights laws were enacted since the 2010 elections -- when Republicans won majorities in many states -- than in the entire previous decade.

Guttmacher's Elizabeth Nash said, "The pendulum swung so far to the right in the 2010 midterm that it will start swinging back in 2014, but this isn't the year of repeal."

Nonetheless, Democratic challengers in states with particularly competitive gubernatorial races -- Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin -- are campaigning heavily on abortion-rights issues, partly because the strategy has been seen as successful in other states. For example, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's (D) nine-point lead among women over his challenger on Election Day has been partly attributed to his attacks against the outgoing governor's antiabortion-rights stance.

However, even if Democrats win the governorships in those states, the Republican Party will still control both legislative chambers in all six states, the National Journal reports (Reinhard, National Journal, 1/21).

Abortion-Rights Opponents Mull Effectiveness of Incremental Strategy

Meanwhile, abortion-rights opponents in states that have passed numerous incremental restrictions on abortion are debating whether to maintain that approach or push farther-reaching legislation and risk court rulings that could endanger previous gains, the AP/U-T San Diego reports.

According to the AP/U-T San Diego, antiabortion-rights lawmakers in Republican-controlled states are under pressure to take more-drastic steps.

For example, lawmakers in Kansas -- which has enacted numerous incremental antiabortion-rights laws -- have recently proposed more-sweeping restrictions, including a bill that would ban abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detectable and one that would grant "inalienable rights" from the moment of conception. However, some antiabortion-rights leaders are concerned such measures could ultimately result in damaging rulings from state courts or even the Supreme Court.

Jennifer Mason, communications director for Personhood USA, said the debate over what approach to take "is nationwide right now," adding, "Many of my peers are frustrated with the past 40 years of an incremental approach."

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansas for Life, said in favor of the incremental approach, "You have to take the public with you ... Or you risk backlash that puts you in a worse position than when you started" (Crary/Hanna, AP/U-T San Diego, 1/21).




Spanish Law Would Reverse Progress on Safe Abortion in Europe, New York Times Editorial Argues

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 15:07

A proposed bill in Spain "would restrict reproductive rights so severely that many women would be forced to travel abroad to seek abortions or turn to illegal and risky procedures," a New York Times editorial states.

Spanish Law Would Reverse Progress on Safe Abortion in Europe, New York Times Editorial Argues

January 22, 2014 — A proposed bill in Spain "would restrict reproductive rights so severely that many women would be forced to travel abroad to seek abortions or turn to illegal and risky procedures," a New York Times editorial states.

The bill would prohibit abortion except in instances of rape or "grave" endangerment to the woman's health, as determined by two independent medical professionals, according to the editorial. In addition, the law would require minors to obtain parental approval for an abortion, and it would no longer acknowledge fetal abnormalities as a qualified reason for an abortion.

If enacted, the bill would make Spain "the first member of the European Union to retreat from a decades-long trend toward safe and legal abortion," according to the editorial. The nation's conservative Popular Party is pushing the bill under the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The editorial notes that the bill faces "stiff resistance in Spain's Parliament," which in 2010 passed a bill liberalizing abortion access.

The editorial concludes, "Parliament can do even more to protect women in Spain, and all of Europe, by trying again to pass a report, narrowly defeated in December, that would designate a woman's right to abortion a fundamental human right" (New York Times, 1/17).




GOP Resolution Urges Candidates To Tout Opposition to Abortion Rights

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 15:04

A new Republican National Committee resolution will urge GOP candidates to voice their opposition to abortion rights and challenge Democratic rhetoric portraying them as anti-women, CNN's "Political Ticker" reports.

GOP Resolution Urges Candidates To Tout Opposition to Abortion Rights

January 22, 2014 — A new Republican National Committee resolution will urge GOP candidates to voice their opposition to abortion rights and challenge Democratic rhetoric portraying them as anti-women, CNN's "Political Ticker" reports.

Delaware National Committee member Ellen Barrosse drafted the measure, which is called the Resolution on Republican Pro-Life Strategy and co-sponsored by 15 additional RNC members. Barrosse plans to introduce it at an RNC meeting on Wednesday.

The resolution requests that the organization "support Republican pro-life candidates who fight back against Democratic deceptive 'war on women' rhetoric by pointing out the extreme positions on abortion held by Democratic opponents." The resolution cites polling data it says indicate that most people oppose abortion later in pregnancy and support parental consent laws.

Change in Messaging

Barrosse said she wrote the measure because she thinks Republican candidates -- like presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli -- did too little to defend themselves against Democratic claims of a Republican "war on women" in 2012 and 2013. She added, "Not talking about it" and "[n]ot responding has not worked well for us. It's a conversation the party has to have" (Hamby, "Political Ticker," CNN, 1/21).

RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowsi called the resolution "an acknowledgement that [the GOP] need[s] to take back messaging and positively promote our pro-life agenda" (Novack, National Journal, 1/21).

Democratic National Committee spokesperson Lily Adams responded that the resolution would hurt the GOP. She added that RNC leaders "promised [the] party was going to be 'fresh and new,' but as the RNC enters their Winter Meeting, it's clear nothing's changed" (Shabad, "Ballot Box," The Hill, 1/21).

The resolution could move to the full committee for a vote on Friday ("Political Ticker," CNN, 1/21).




Guidance Needed To Clarify Preventive Care Coverage Under ACA, Experts Say

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 15:02

Although the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) requires health plans to cover many preventive services without cost-sharing, some patients are facing bills and other challenges when obtaining such care, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post reports.

Guidance Needed To Clarify Preventive Care Coverage Under ACA, Experts Say

January 22, 2014 — Although the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) requires health plans to cover many preventive services without cost-sharing, some patients are facing bills and other challenges when obtaining such care, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post reports.

The ACA requires health plans to cover many preventive services without consumer cost-sharing, including services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, many vaccines and a slate of women's health services. The requirements apply to all health plans except those that have been grandfathered under the law and those that qualify for religious exemptions under the federal contraceptive coverage rules.

Barriers to Contraception Access

The federal contraceptive coverage rules require most health plans to cover "the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods, including, but not limited to, barrier methods, hormonal methods, and implanted devices." However, a Guttmacher Institute study found that a number of plans exclude coverage for the contraceptive ring and patch.

Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at Guttmacher who wrote the report, said insurers are "claiming that [the methods are] the same hormones as the pills, so it's the same method."

An HHS official wrote in an email, "The pill, the ring and the patch are different types of hormonal methods," adding, "It is not permissible to cover only the pill, but not the ring or the patch."

Calls for Clarification

Advocates and policy experts are urging HHS to issue more guidance on how various preventive services should be covered.

The lack of clarity has led to instances of patients being billed for costs related to services and procedures that should be covered, according to American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Associate Director of Federal Relations Mona Shah.

The problem often is related to how services are coded for billing purposes, Shah explained. For example, a specific procedure might be covered, but related anesthesia and facility fees are not (Andrews, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post, 1/20).




Gender Rating in Long-Term Health Plans Prompts Formal Complaints

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 14:59

The National Women's Law Center has filed complaints against four of the country's largest insurers and various states, alleging that the companies' long-term health care plans discriminate against female beneficiaries, Louisville Business First reports.

Gender Rating in Long-Term Health Plans Prompts Formal Complaints

January 22, 2014 — The National Women's Law Center has filed complaints against four of the country's largest insurers and various states, alleging that the companies' long-term health care plans discriminate against female beneficiaries, Louisville Business First reports.

The complaints name four insurers -- Genworth Financial, John Hancock, Transamerica and Mutual of Omaha -- and states that have partnered with them to provide long-term care coverage through their Medicaid programs.

According to the complaints, the insurers plan to start "gender rating" their long-term care policies, which would allow them to charge women 20% to 40% more than men for the same coverage.

NWLC argues that the move violates a provision of the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) that prohibits insurers from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, age, disability, gender identity and sex stereotypes.

NWLC Comments

NWLC Co-President Marcia Greenberger said in a statement, "Requiring women to pay higher prices just because they are women is wrong, unfair and, thanks to the [ACA], is now illegal sex discrimination."

She urged the Office of Civil Rights "to investigate these complaints and ensure that women are not overcharged in the long-term care insurance market" (Lammers, Louisville Business First, 1/17).




Appeals Court Partially Reinstates NYC Crisis Pregnancy Center Disclosure Law

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 14:57

A federal appeals court on Friday reversed part of a ruling that barred New York City from enforcing a law that requires crisis pregnancy centers to disclose more information about their services, the AP/Wall Street Journal reports.

Appeals Court Partially Reinstates NYC Crisis Pregnancy Center Disclosure Law

January 22, 2014 — A federal appeals court on Friday reversed part of a ruling that barred New York City from enforcing a law that requires crisis pregnancy centers to disclose more information about their services, the AP/Wall Street Journal reports (AP/Wall Street Journal, 1/17).

Background

The law requires CPCs to disclose whether they offer abortion services, emergency contraception and prenatal care or refer for such services. Under the law, the information must be posted in English and Spanish in the centers and in advertisements. The law also requires CPCs to disclose whether they have a licensed medical provider on site.

After two CPCs challenged the law, Manhattan Federal Judge William Pauley in July 2011 temporarily blocked it from taking effect, saying it is "offensive to free speech principles." He wrote that the city's definition of commercial speech was too broad. He also said that because the law "relates to the provision of emergency contraception and abortion -- among the most controversial issues in our public discourse -- the risk of discriminatory enforcement is high" (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/14/11).

Appeals Court Ruling

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the lower-court judge went too far in rejecting the law as a whole and restored the requirement that CPCs disclose whether a licensed medical provider is working at the facility.

They noted that without such abilities, the city would be deprived "of its ability to protect the health of its citizens and combat consumer deception in even the most minimal way."

In the majority opinion, Judge Rosemary Pooler wrote that the city has a compelling interest in ensuring consumers understand what services the centers offer. She noted that officials passed the law only after hearing testimony about CPCs using misleading practices, poor patient experiences and potential delays in access to reproductive care.

She also noted that testimony showed that CPCs are often located near Planned Parenthood facilities and have misleading names and signs.

Other Provisions Likely Unconstitutional, Judges Say

The judges said other components of the law -- such as a requirement that CPCs disclose whether they would refer women for abortions, emergency contraception or prenatal care -- likely are unconstitutional (AP/Wall Street Journal, 1/17).

They also declined to reinstate another aspect of the law requiring CPCs to post signs stating that "the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages women who are or who may be pregnant to consult with a licensed [provider]."

In a partial dissent, Judge Richard Wesley wrote that while the "city has an interest in preventing impostors from posing as healthcare workers and in making sure that misinformation is not directed at a vulnerable class of poor or uninformed women," it "does not have a right to sweep all those who, for faith-based reasons, think that abortion is not the right choice in with those who would defraud or intentionally mislead women making this important and personal decision."

Reactions

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the ruling is a partial win. "While we are disappointed that the Second Circuit struck down some disclosure requirements for Pregnancy Service Centers, the provision that was upheld will help to protect pregnant women across the five boroughs."

Lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the two CPCs, said in a statement that they are "evaluating their options for appeal" (Klasfeld, Courthouse News, 1/20). Meanwhile, the American Center for Law & Justice, whose lawyers argued against the law, in a statement said it is pleased that "serious constitutional flaws" in the law were recognized but is disappointed that some parts were revived (AP/Wall Street Journal, 1/17).




Refusal Bill Advances in Ala. House

Tue, 01/21/2014 - 18:56

The Alabama House Health Committee on Wednesday advanced legislation (HB 31) that would allow most health care providers to refuse to participate in abortion care or other services if they personally object, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Refusal Bill Advances in Ala. House

January 21, 2014 — The Alabama House Health Committee on Wednesday advanced legislation (HB 31) that would allow most health care providers to refuse to participate in abortion care or other services if they personally object, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The measure, introduced by state Rep. Becky Nordgren (R), would bar employers from penalizing workers who refuse to participate in medical procedures or services if they submit a religious, moral or ethical objection in writing.

The measure does not apply to workers at abortion clinics, nor does it allow health care providers to stop providing care in life-threatening situations until a replacement is available.

According to the AP/Journal-Constitution, similar versions of the bill previously passed the House but stalled in the Senate, mostly because of general gridlock and not partisan objections. Only two members of the House Health Committee -- Democratic state Reps. John Knight and Laura Hall -- voted against the latest measure (Barrow, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/15).


Ethicists: Texas Life Support Law 'Unconstitutional'; NYT Columnist Blasts 'Cruel' Policy

Tue, 01/21/2014 - 18:55

Although a Texas law barring hospitals from ending life-sustaining treatment for pregnant patients "is almost certainly unconstitutional," it does not apply to a controversial case in which a pregnant woman is being kept on life support against her and her family's wishes, according to a Los Angeles Times opinion piece by Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Thaddeus Pope, director of the Health Law Institute at Hamline University School of Law.

Ethicists: Texas Life Support Law 'Unconstitutional'; NYT Columnist Blasts 'Cruel' Policy

January 21, 2014 — Although a Texas law barring hospitals from ending life-sustaining treatment for pregnant patients "is almost certainly unconstitutional," it does not apply to a controversial case in which a pregnant woman is being kept on life support against her and her family's wishes, according to a Los Angeles Times opinion piece by Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Thaddeus Pope, director of the Health Law Institute at Hamline University School of Law.

They explain that the woman, Marlise Munoz, was clinically determined to have "suffered brain death, 'irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function.'" However, the hospital claims the state law prevents it from granting her family's request to withdraw life support, in compliance with Munoz's end-of-life wishes.

Caplan and Pope argue that the Texas "law requires only that a living pregnant woman be kept alive," adding that, "like similar laws in other states, [it] is almost always applied when the woman is incapacitated and terminally or irreversibly ill." In Munoz's case, life "support is not, and cannot be, 'life-sustaining,'" because she is dead.

Munoz's case "provides an opportunity to overturn a bad law," they continue, noting that her husband has filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

"The only question in Fort Worth is who knows best what to do when a body is being used as an incubator for a nonviable and possibly damaged fetus: a woman and her family or the Legislature of Texas? The answer, in a state whose laws often stress the need to respect personal liberty, ought to be clear," Caplan and Pope conclude (Caplan/Pope, Los Angeles Times, 1/16).

Hospital's Treatment of Munoz Family is 'Cruel,' Columnist Writes

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni argues that "regardless of the law and whether it applies to [Munoz's] case, the treatment of her and her family isn't just or right, for many reasons."

Bruni describes the hospital's treatment of the family as "[c]ruel," noting that the family members are the ones who will have to deal with the lasting effects of the hospital's decisions. For example, "if a baby is born with severe and enduring ailments, Marlise's husband and parents will presumably inherit the effort to give that child a decent quality of life, which is a concept that goes strangely missing in too many disputes over the unborn," he writes.

"While Texas, like other states, has been trying to make it harder and harder to obtain abortions, it cannot ultimately prevent a woman who is still able to speak for herself from ending a pregnancy in the early stages," he continues, asking, "How, then, can it prevent a family who speaks legitimately for her from taking that same step?" (Bruni, New York Times, 1/18).


Judge Rejects N.C. Law Requiring Description of Ultrasound

Tue, 01/21/2014 - 18:55

A federal judge on Friday ruled that a North Carolina law (HB 854) requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound, describe it to the woman and offer her a chance to hear the fetal heartbeat violates physicians' free-speech rights, Reuters reports.

Judge Rejects N.C. Law Requiring Description of Ultrasound

January 21, 2014 — A federal judge on Friday ruled that a North Carolina law (HB 854) requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound, describe it to the woman and offer her a chance to hear the fetal heartbeat violates physicians' free-speech rights, Reuters reports (Adams, Reuters, 1/17).

Under the legislation -- which took effect in October 2011 -- an abortion cannot be performed unless a woman receives state-specified information about the procedure, an ultrasound and a description of the ultrasound image. The woman does not have to watch the ultrasound screen or listen to the description, but she had to sign a document acknowledging that the description was provided. The document had to be kept on file for at least seven years.

In September 2011, a coalition of five groups -- the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, Planned Parenthood Health Systems, Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina and the Center for Reproductive Rights -- filed a lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/30/11).

Friday's Ruling

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles said the state does not have "the power to compel a health care provider to speak, in his or her own voice, the state's ideological message in favor of carrying a pregnancy to term."

Eagles added that the law "compels a health care provider to act as the state's courier and to disseminate the state's message discouraging abortion, in the provider's own voice, in the middle of a medical procedure, and under circumstances where it would seem the message is the provider's and not the state's."

She concluded, "This is not allowed under the First Amendment" (Reuters, 1/17).

The state has not said whether it will appeal the ruling, the New York Times reports (Eckholm, New York Times, 1/17).

Other Ultrasound Laws

According to the Guttmacher Institute, seven other states require that abortion providers offer an ultrasound prior to abortion. Three states -- Louisiana, Texas and Wisconsin -- have requirements similar to those in North Carolina.

Just two months ago, the Supreme Court declined to intervene in a case involving an overturned Oklahoma law that required an ultrasound before a woman could receive an abortion (Dalesio, AP/ABC News, 1/18).


Blogs Comment on HR 7, Roe Anniversary, Economic Security, More

Tue, 01/21/2014 - 17:50

We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from the Center for American Progress, Care2 and more.

Blogs Comment on HR 7, Roe Anniversary, Economic Security, More

January 21, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from the Center for American Progress, Care2 and more.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Congressman's New Jobs Plan: Deny Women Access to Abortion So They Can Make More Babies," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "During a debate over an anti-abortion bill [HR 7] currently advancing in Congress, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) suggested that Republicans support restricting access to abortion because it will ultimately benefit the economy if women have more children," writes Culp-Ressler, adding that the bill would "dramatically restrict women's access to affordable abortion care by imposing restrictions on insurance coverage and tax credits for the procedure." Culp-Ressler argues, "In reality, denying women autonomy over their reproductive lives is not a wise economic policy," adding that "[w]ithout access to affordable family planning services, women are less likely to be able to finish their education, advance their career, or achieve financial independence." She also cites a Guttmacher Institute study that found the government saves $5 for every $1 it invests in family planning services (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 1/15).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "5 Absurd Reasons Why Conservatives Want To Force Women To Give Birth," Robin Marty, Care2.

~ "'Protective' States? How Anti-Abortion Organizations Patronize and Infantilize Women," Marty, Care2.

~ "Kentucky Lawmaker Attempts To Define Abortion as Domestic Violence," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check.

ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: "'Roe v. Wade' Let Me Become a Mother," Sarah Erdreich, RH Reality Check: "[T]oo often abortion is talked about as something entirely separate from the rest of the reproductive care continuum," which "has helped perpetuate the myth that abortion is something so rare and repugnant that no rational and compassionate woman would ever choose it," Erdreich writes. She adds, "Such a narrow, judgmental conversation does no one any favors, and ignores the positive ways in which the entire spectrum of reproductive rights affects personal lives and helps create healthy families." She notes that "only since Roe, women and men have been able to plan their lives with the assumption that they won't become parents until or unless they want to." Erdreich continues, "Like millions of women, having control of all my reproductive choices has meant being able to complete my education, participate fully in the workplace, and establish a solid relationship with my partner before becoming a parent" (Erdreich, RH Reality Check, 1/20).

What others are saying about the Roe anniversary:

~ "41 Years of Fighting Over Roe," Martha Burk, Huffington Post blogs.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "Supreme Court Will Decide on Re-Arming Domestic Abusers," Gaylynn Burroughs, Ms. Magazine blog: The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case, United States v. Castleman, that "could limit the effectiveness of the [1996 Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban (PL 104208)] and place domestic violence victims further at risk," writes Burroughs, director of policy and research at the Feminist Majority Foundation. She explains, "If the Supreme Court upholds the lower courts' interpretation of the gun ban, it will immensely cripple the law and the protection it affords" because "none of the abusers convicted under [state misdemeanor assault and battery laws] would be subject to the gun ban if their convictions did not specifically mention 'physical force.'" She continues, "There is no reason to wait for an abuser to exhibit 'strong and violent force,' as the lower courts would have us do, before we prevent that abuser from owning a firearm" (Burroughs, Ms. Magazine blog, 1/16).

What others are saying about violence against women:

~ "Stripping Parental Rights From Rapists May Be One Place Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Can Agree," Marty, Care2.

~ "Meet Dick Black, Who Thinks Husbands Can't Rape Their Wives and is Running for Congress," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."

WOMEN'S ECONOMIC SECURITY: "Marital Status Doesn't Cause Poverty -- Not Having Money Does," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check: "[G]rowing income inequality and startling statistics ... are making the discussion of economic justice unavoidable," but "conservatives have decided to blame a favorite scapegoat -- women who make sexual choices they disagree with -- for the 'choice' not to get married," Marcotte writes. She notes that the "strangest thing about the attacks on single women, especially single mothers, is how much conservatives seem to believe that women are actively avoiding marriage." She adds that people are poor "[b]ecause they don't have enough money" and that people are single because they "don't have anyone suitable to be married to," not because there is "a widespread marriage boycott organized by welfare offices, feminists, or some combination of the two" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 1/20).

What others are saying about women's economic security:

~ "The Shriver Report and Access to Breast Cancer Care," Judith Salerno, Huffington Post blogs.

GENDER RATING: "Four Major Insurers Accused of Discriminating Against Women in Long-Term Care Plans," Sy Mukherjee, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Mukherjee comments on "sex discrimination complaints" being filed by the National Women's Law Center "against four of the largest American insurance companies for discriminating against women in their long-term care insurance plans." The suit accuses the insurers of charging women more than men for the policies, thus violating the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) "protections barring sex discrimination in insurance plans," he explains. While the "long-term care industry has long maintained" the provisions do not apply to them, NWLC argues that "this form of discrimination only exacerbates the financial strains of the lifetime of wage discrimination that most women experience," Mukherjee writes (Mukherjee, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 1/16).