Daily Women's Health Policy Report

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Daily Women's Health Policy Report by the National Partnership for Women & Families
Updated: 1 hour 35 min ago

Blogs Comment on Alleged Forced C-Section, 'Louisiana's War on Women,' More

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:41

We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from Slate, RH Reality Check and more.

Blogs Comment on Alleged Forced C-Section, 'Louisiana's War on Women,' More

May 23, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from Slate, RH Reality Check and more.

PREGNANCY AND PARENTING: "Woman Sues a New York Hospital for Forcing a C-Section. Can Doctors Do That?" Jessica Grose, Slate's "XX Factor": Grose comments on a case in which a "New York woman, Rinat Dray, has filed suit against Staten Island University Hospital because she says doctors there forced her to have an unwanted cesarean section." According to Grose, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' ethics committee contends that it is hard to "'imagine' a situation in which any pregnant woman should be forced" to have a C-section, yet National Advocates for Pregnant Women has "documented 30 cases where pregnant women were forced by a court order to undergo C-sections or other medical procedures they did not consent to between 1973 and 2005." Grose notes that "some states are trying to move in the direction of" enacting laws "that would take the right to refuse medical treatment away from a mother," which "leads down a very scary path to fetal rights laws." Grose concludes, "It should go without saying, but we need to continue to trust pregnant women as rational, adult actors who can make their own medical decisions" (Grose, "XX Factor," Slate, 5/21).

What others are saying about pregnancy and parenting:

~ "Enough is Enough: Poor Women are not Having Babies for Money," Shanelle Matthews, RH Reality Check.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Louisiana's War on Women: The 5 Worst Attacks on Reproductive Rights Launched This Year," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "This legislative session, Louisiana has exemplified" the fact that state "lawmakers show no signs of letting up" on efforts to restrict abortion-rights, Culp-Ressler writes. She highlights five proposals in the state, including "a bill to shut down abortion clinics and turn doctors into criminals," a bill advancing through the state Legislature that would "force comatose pregnant women to remain on life support against their families' wishes," a measure (HB 1262) that would require "women to read a pamphlet about 'abortion risks' written by abortion opponents," state lawmakers' rejection of "attempts to improve the state's dismal sex ed laws," and an effort toward "banning Planned Parenthood from providing sex ed materials in public schools" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 5/22).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Women's Access to Legal Abortion is Disappearing in the South," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

~ "Abortion Waiting Periods are an Insult to Women," Ian Reifowitz, Huffington Post blogs.

PEACE CORPS: "Congress Must Act To Protect Peace Corps Volunteers," Nina Besser, International Women's Health Coalition's "Akimbo": Women account for more than 60% of the 8,000 Americans who choose to serve in the Peace Corps each year and travel to "all corners of the globe, partnering with local communities and working to promote development and stability," Besser writes. Although a recent study found that almost 10% of female Peace Corps volunteers reported they had been raped during their service, "each year, Congress votes to deny these women comprehensive reproductive health care," Besser notes. She explains, "Unlike other recipients of federal health coverage ... Peace Corps volunteers are denied access to abortion coverage, even in the extreme cases of rape, life endangerment, and incest." Besser concludes, "It's time that Congress stops being a barrier for comprehensive reproductive health coverage, and acts to ensure that women who choose to serve in the Peace Corps have access to the services they need" (Besser, "Akimbo," IWHC, 5/21).

SEXUAL VIOLENCE: "Man Who Drugged and Raped His Wife for Years Because She Was 'Snippy' Gets No Prison Time," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing: "Over the course of three years, an Indiana man named David Wise regularly drugged his wife, raped her, and filmed the assaults on his phone," all of which he admitted in writing, Dusenbery writes, adding that even though Wise was convicted of six felony charges, he "won't [spend] a single day in prison because the county judge ... decided that eight years of home confinement was plenty." Further, "there's no indication Wise understands what a terrible thing he did, and the light sentence just seems to confirm the idea that 'there will be no consequences for your crime' -- to Wise and the rest of us," Dusenbery writes (Dusenbery, Feministing, 5/20).

What others are saying about sexual violence:

~ "The Misguided Definition of Rape as 'Force,'" Mary Adkins, The Atlantic.

WOMEN IN POLITICS: "Women Will Reach Political Parity in 2121. Why Will it Take So Long?" Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post's "She The People": Henderson writes that women have "about 20 percent of overall representation" in politics, adding that "[p]redictions for when women will reach politica[l] parity are right in line with predictions for when humans will start setting up colonies on the moon": 2121. She cites a new report that examines "why, after all these years, women are still under-represented in elected office and why it's going to take so long to reach equal representation." According to the report, there is a "complicated landscape for women in politics, with discrimination and bias impeding progress, and other social, cultural and political barriers as well," she writes. In addition, Henderson highlights this year's "election season, in which women are the most coveted voting bloc and women candidates are engaged in high-profile campaigns for the Senate and other statewide races" (Henderson, "She The People," Washington Post, 5/22).

EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION: "Buyer Beware: Can We Trust Cheap Plan B One-Step on Amazon.com?" Elizabeth Dawes Gay/Renee Bracey Sherman, RH Reality Check: Dawes Gay of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project and Bracey Sherman, an abortion access activist, write that social media sites have recently "lit up with the news that Amazon.com vendors are selling Plan B One-Step emergency contraception (EC) for on average $24.99," while the product costs around $50 in stores. They note that while "the apparent price drop is exciting news for those who want to ensure people across the country have access to this form of" EC, "such a steep drop in price raises red flags, especially since the wholesale acquisition cost" of the product "is estimated to be $32.50." According to Dawes Gay and Bracey Sherman, after RHTP looked into the products being sold through Amazon, they found various inconsistencies with vendors and their suppliers. They conclude that "it appears that some caution is warranted when seeking Plan B from Amazon.com" (Dawes Gay/Bracey Sherman, RH Reality Check, 5/22).


Pediatricians Urge Pregnant, Breastfeeding Women To Take Iodide Supplements

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:36

Pregnant and lactating women should take supplements with iodide to encourage normal brain development in their children, according to a policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and published in the journal Pediatrics, Reuters reports.

Pediatricians Urge Pregnant, Breastfeeding Women To Take Iodide Supplements

May 28, 2014 — Pregnant and lactating women should take supplements with iodide to encourage normal brain development in their children, according to a policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and published in the journal Pediatrics, Reuters reports.

According to Reuters, iodine is necessary to produce thyroid hormones, which are essential for brain development before and after birth. Most people meet their iodine needs with table salt, which is fortified with iodide in the U.S.

However, processed foods in the U.S. do not contain iodized salt, meaning that pregnant and lactating women who regularly consume such foods are more likely to be iodine deficient.

Details of Recommendations

In its recommendations, AAP's Council on Environmental Health noted that past research shows that about 33% of pregnant women are slightly iodine deficient and that only about 15% of women take supplements containing adequate amounts of iodide. The American Thyroid Association and the National Academy of Sciences suggest that pregnant and breastfeeding women consume about 290 micrograms of iodide daily.

AAP recommended that women's total daily intake of iodide be between 290 and 1,100 micrograms. More specifically, the group suggested that pregnant and breastfeeding women take a supplement that includes at least 150 micrograms of iodide and use iodized table salt. In addition, women who are vegan or do not eat fish should be tested for iodine deficiency.

The group also recommended that pregnant and lactating woman avoid certain chemicals, such as nitrate and thiocyanate, which can disrupt the body's ability to process iodine. It also calls on the Environmental Protection Agency to appropriately regulate perchlorate in waterways because the chemical can disrupt the body's ability to process iodine (Seaman, Reuters, 5/26).


Poverty, Family Planning Cuts Tied to Rising Abortion Rate in Detroit

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:36

An increase in Detroit's abortion rate since 2001 likely is tied to increased poverty and reduced access to contraception, according to city public health officials, the Detroit News reports.

Poverty, Family Planning Cuts Tied to Rising Abortion Rate in Detroit

May 27, 2014 — An increase in Detroit's abortion rate since 2001 likely is tied to increased poverty and reduced access to contraception, according to city public health officials, the Detroit News reports.

Thirty-one percent of pregnancies in Detroit ended in abortion during 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. By contrast, abortion rates in Michigan and nationwide are on the decline.

The city figures translate into an abortion rate of 37.9 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, up from 27.5 per 1,000 women in 2001. The rate is three times greater than Michigan's statewide rate, which decreased from 12.6 abortions per 1,000 women to 11 per 1,000 women over the same time period.

Contributing Factors

Public funding for family planning has declined significantly in Michigan in recent years, from more than $5 million in 2006, to $692,300 in 2013, according to the state Department of Community Health.

According to the News, it is impossible to directly compare the abortion rate in Detroit with that of other cities because mandatory reporting of abortion statistics is not required in all states. However, experts noted that abortion rates tend to be higher in low-income urban areas, such as Detroit. For example, the city's abortion rate peaked in 2008, the same year the city went through the worst of the recession and increased cuts to social safety net programs.

Susan Schooley, chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan, said, "Both routine primary care and family planning-specific primary care are not available in Detroit," adding, "To the extent that a significant proportion of those (pregnancies) are unplanned, it leads to all these decision-making options of which abortion is one lousy choice."

Jay Berman, chief of gynecology at DMC Hutzel Hospital and division chief of gynecology at Wayne State University Medical School in Michigan, said increased insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) would reduce cost barriers to contraception (Bouffard, Detroit News, 5/22).


Trio of La. Bills Restricts Sex Education, End-of-Life Care, Abortion Rights

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:35

The Louisiana Senate in a 31-5 vote on Tuesday passed a bill (HB 305) that would prohibit people who work for abortion providers from distributing health education materials in schools, as well as two other bills restricting women's rights, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Trio of La. Bills Restricts Sex Education, End-of-Life Care, Abortion Rights

May 28, 2014 — The Louisiana Senate in a 31-5 vote on Tuesday passed a bill (HB 305) that would prohibit people who work for abortion providers from distributing health education materials in schools, as well as two other bills restricting women's rights, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (DeSlatte, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27).

Specifically, HB 305 would bar employees or representatives of abortion providers and their affiliates from instructing, speaking or distributing information pertaining to reproductive health or family planning at public or charter schools (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/11). The bill, which the state House already approved, now proceeds to Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who is expected to sign it.

Supporters of the measure argued that it would prevent people with a financial interest in promoting abortion from speaking in schools. State Sen. Ben Nevers (D) said, "I think this bill just makes sure our children are protected."

Meanwhile, opponents said it is an attack on Planned Parenthood and that no other groups are prevented under state law from speaking at public schools. The bill would prevent teaching of medically accurate sex education lessons, they argued. State Sen. Karen Carter (D) said, "Teens need to know how to make responsible decisions and stay healthy," adding, "What this bill is doing is taking one of the pre-eminent organizations in this country out of the classroom."

Mandatory Counseling Measure

The state Senate voted 30-4 to pass another measure (HB 1262) that would require women seeking abortions to be given written materials on the potential impact of the procedure, as well as information on human trafficking, abuse and the illegality of coerced abortion (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27). The information also would list resources for women facing any of those situations (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/11). Abortion providers would have to distribute the information at the start of the state's 24-hour mandatory delay before a woman can receive an abortion.

The measure now returns to the state House for a final vote.

Measure Requiring Care for Brain-Dead Pregnant Women

The state Senate also approved in a 36-2 vote a bill (HB 348) that would require health care providers to maintain medical care for pregnant women who are brain dead until birth if an obstetrician determines that a woman's body "can reasonably be maintained in such a way as to permit the continuing development and live birth of the unborn child."

The chamber approved new language in a 20-18 vote that would permit a woman's spouse, children, parents or siblings to make the final decision.

Nevers argued against the change, saying that physicians should do everything possible to "protect that unborn child."

However, state Sen. J.P. Morrell (D) said, "What you're talking about is having the government decide what happens to your loved one if [she is] on life support. ... That should be terrifying to people."

The measure now returns to the state House for consideration (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27).


Study: Moral Concerns Present Barriers to HPV Vaccination

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:34

Moral concerns about the human papillomavirus vaccine are the leading barrier to vaccination cited by college freshmen, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants' annual meeting, MedPage Today reports.

Study: Moral Concerns Present Barriers to HPV Vaccination

May 29, 2014 — Moral concerns about the human papillomavirus vaccine are the leading barrier to vaccination cited by college freshmen, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants' annual meeting, MedPage Today reports.

Researchers Jamie Phillipich and Margaret Webb of Grand Valley State University questioned 18- and 19-year-old students at the university about perceived barriers to receiving the HPV vaccine. Anonymous online surveys were sent to 1,000 of the university's incoming freshmen, prompting 146 responses, 69.2% of which were from women.

Among 109 responses that included vaccination status, 51.4% of students said they had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, while 40.4% reported receiving all three doses.

Key Findings

According to the study, 91.2% of respondents cited a mixture of morality-related issues as barriers to getting vaccinated. These issues included a combination of reasons such as the perception that the vaccine promotes sexual behavior, contradicts moral or religious beliefs or goes against parental views.

Other perceived barriers included lack of education about the vaccine, which was cited by 51.2% of respondents; cost, cited by 33.3%; lack of physician recommendation, cited by 25.2%; negative side effects, cited by 17.1%; and "negative media portrayal" of the vaccine, cited by 9.7%.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they obtained information about the vaccine from the media, but more than half of those individuals were skeptical of the information's accuracy.

Researchers' Comments

The researchers wrote, "Vaccination continues to be a controversial topic for parents as rumors swirl through the mass media about the false complications associated with the vaccination."

They added, "As providers, it will be important to impart the most recent guidelines to patients and their families so they have the information they need to make informed decisions" (Susman, MedPage Today, 5/27).


Kan. Planned Parenthood Center To Close After State Blocks Federal Funding

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:34

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri announced Friday that it will close its health center in Hays, Kan., to ensure a larger clinic in Wichita can remain open in light of a recent appeals court decision, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Kan. Planned Parenthood Center To Close After State Blocks Federal Funding

May 28, 2014 — Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri announced Friday that it will close its health center in Hays, Kan., to ensure a larger clinic in Wichita can remain open in light of a recent appeals court decision, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

The court ruled that Kansas can block federal Title X family planning funding to the organization.

The Hays health center will see patients until June 26 and will close on June 30. The closure will leave the Ellis County area without a Title X provider.

In addition, PPKM said it would no longer be able to provide no-cost services or contraception to low-income residents at the Wichita center without the Title X funding. However, the organization said that private donations will allow it to continue offering low-cost health care.

According to the AP/Bee, court documents show that both clinics were operating at a loss before the state cut off the funding.

Last year, the centers provided care to more than 3,700 patients with the Title X funding. In total, the two clinics served more than 5,700 people.

Comments

PPKM Interim CEO Ron Ellifrits said in a statement that the organization is "still here for our patients, and we are fighting every day to maintain, restore, or expand access to health care in Kansas despite all [of] the obstacles in our path."

Meanwhile, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday that it is working to locate additional family planning services and evaluate other options as it moves toward awarding one-year contracts for Title X providers in the state (Hegeman, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/23).


N.Y. Dems, Women's Rights Groups Urge Vote on Entire Women's Equality Act

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:32

New York Senate Democrats and women's rights groups are urging legislative leaders to hold a floor vote on a package of 10 bills, together called the Women's Equality Act, before the session ends, the Albany Legislative Gazette reports.

N.Y. Dems, Women's Rights Groups Urge Vote on Entire Women's Equality Act

May 29, 2014 — New York Senate Democrats and women's rights groups are urging legislative leaders to hold a floor vote on a package of 10 bills, together called the Women's Equality Act, before the session ends, the Albany Legislative Gazette reports (Fay, Albany Legislative Gazette, 5/27).

Last year, the state Senate passed every measure in the package except an abortion-rights bill, and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) refused to consider the package without the abortion measure.

Democrats reintroduced the measure last week, with Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins saying that the group is committed to passing the package in its entirety.

The bills cover issues such as human trafficking, reproductive rights, sexual harassment, pay equity and protective orders for women. Supporters have said the abortion-rights measure in the package would bring state law in line with the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/21).

Dems Explain Abortion Measure

State Sen. Liz Krueger (D) explained that abortion is regulated under New York's penal code, which means that abortion providers can face criminal charges even if an abortion is in a patient's best interest. She said the WEA would recodify abortion regulations into state health law.

Krueger said that controversy over the abortion measure -- which also clarifies the legality of the procedure to protect a woman's life or health -- mainly stems from conservatives who misinterpret the bill's language to mean that women could have an abortion for any reason (Albany Legislative Gazette, 5/27). Opponents of the bill have claimed it would allow non-physicians to perform abortions up to birth (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/21).

Stewart-Cousins said that Senate Democrats stand "united" on the bill, calling on state Sens. Dean Skelos (R) and Jeff Klein (D) "to bring the entire [WEA] before the state Senate so that all New Yorkers are able to see where their elected officials stand on these important issues, and beyond that, to pass it so we can start to improve the lives of women in New York" (Albany Legislative Gazette, 5/27).


Study: Many Preventive Double Mastectomies Likely Unnecessary

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:31

About 70% of women who opt for a double mastectomy after a cancer diagnosis in one breast do not have risk factors indicating they are likely to develop the disease in the other breast, according to a new study in JAMA Surgery, Medical News Today reports.

Study: Many Preventive Double Mastectomies Likely Unnecessary

May 23, 2014 — About 70% of women who opt for a double mastectomy after a cancer diagnosis in one breast do not have risk factors indicating they are likely to develop the disease in the other breast, according to a new study in JAMA Surgery, Medical News Today reports (Ellis, Medical News Today, 5/22).

The Society of Surgical Oncology recommends that only patients who have an increased risk for breast cancer, such as those with a genetic susceptibility or a strong family history, undergo a preventive double mastectomy. According to Reuters, there is a lack of evidence that the procedure improves survival for women without those risk factors.

However, researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School found that the rate of such procedures had increased, even though less than 10% of women meet the recommendations for a double preventive mastectomy.

The researchers investigated the inconsistency by examining data on 1,447 women in Los Angeles and Detroit who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2005 and 2007. The researchers focused on women who elected to have a double mastectomy and their reasons for doing so (Seaman, Reuters, 5/21).

Key Findings

The researchers found that 8% of the women had a double mastectomy and that 18% considered undergoing the procedure (MedPage Today, 5/22).

Women were more likely to opt for a preventive double mastectomy if they underwent genetic testing, had a family history of cancer, reported higher education levels, underwent an MRI or presented with strong anxiety over developing cancer in their healthy breast (Reuters, 5/21).

Sarah Hawley, lead author and an associate professor at Michigan University Medical School, said, "Women appear to be using worry over cancer recurrence to choose [preventive double mastectomies]." She said that the trend "does not make sense, because having a non-affected breast removed will not reduce the risk of recurrence in the affected breast" (MedPage Today, 5/22).


House Advances Bipartisan Bills To Address Sex Trafficking

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:30

The House on Tuesday approved multiple bills that aim to curb sex trafficking, all of which were passed with bipartisan support, the New York Times reports.

House Advances Bipartisan Bills To Address Sex Trafficking

May 23, 2014 — The House on Tuesday approved multiple bills that aim to curb sex trafficking, all of which were passed with bipartisan support, the New York Times reports (Steinhauer, New York Times, 5/20).

Bill Details

One of the bills (HR 3610), called the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act, would require law enforcement to treat children involved in sex trafficking as victims and not criminals. The measure also would make sex trafficking survivors eligible for Jobs Corps, a vocational and educational program.

Another bill (HR 4058) would require states to identify and protect sex trafficking survivors who are in foster care. A third measure (HR 4573), known as the International Megan's Law, would mandate that the U.S. inform foreign nations when a convicted pedophile travels into their country.

Meanwhile, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (HR 3530) would mandate that people who buy sex victims are prosecuted as serious offenders. It also would boost law enforcement funding to help combat sex trafficking. According to Time, the measure was introduced on Tuesday and passed unanimously.

The fifth measure (HR 4225), called the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act, would make knowingly advertising a child online a federal crime and impose minimum sentencing requirements (Rhodan, Time, 5/20).

Senate Prospects

According to the Times, several senators from both parties have said they would like to pass similar measures. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who is sponsoring one of the Senate companion bills (S 1733), said there is a "strong interest in getting these done in the Senate."

A successful compromise between the House and the Senate on the measures would produce some of the "most significant" legislation on sex trafficking in several years, according to the Times (New York Times, 5/20).


Admitting Privileges Laws Threaten Abortion Access in Large Swaths of U.S.

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 17:29

State laws requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals threaten to leave women in broad areas of the country without abortion access in their region, particularly in rural and low-income parts of the South and Midwest, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Admitting Privileges Laws Threaten Abortion Access in Large Swaths of U.S.

May 29, 2014 — State laws requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals threaten to leave women in broad areas of the country without abortion access in their region, particularly in rural and low-income parts of the South and Midwest, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

The laws are especially harmful for abortion clinics in the South because their doctors often come from out of state to perform abortions and do not have connections to local hospitals, according to the AP/Bee. In addition, some hospitals have religious affiliations that bar them from entering into agreements with abortion providers, while others might not grant privileges to out-of-state physicians, the AP/Bee reports.

Some states already have the admitting privileges requirements in place, and others are under court review. For example, a court allowed a law (HB 2) with the requirements to take effect this year in Texas, where 19 of 33 clinics have closed. Tennessee has a similar law, and measures in Mississippi -- which has just one abortion clinic -- and Alabama are on hold while courts consider lawsuits. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 10 states have laws with admitting privileges requirements, including measures about to be enacted in Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Comments

Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel for CRR, said there are potentially "huge swaths of the country where women's options are becoming severely limited." She disputed claims by supporters of the laws who argue that the requirements safeguard women's health. Admitting privileges requirements are "absolutely not medically necessary" and are really designed to restrict abortion access, she said.

However, Denise Burke, vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life, said the laws are "obvious and medically appropriate regulation[s] of the abortion providers" (Wagster Pettus, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/29).

Richards: Fight Back on Restrictions

The spread of admitting privileges laws across the South threatens to make the U.S. "a country in which a woman's ability to make the private and personal medical decision best for herself and her family will be dependent upon where she happens to live," Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards writes in a CNN opinion piece.

Richards adds that the "only effective way to stop these attacks on women's health is to change who is in office passing these laws." She writes that lawmakers "who are attacking women's health are on the wrong side of this issue," and "thousands of women, men, and young people across the country ... are willing to fight tooth and nail to stop" the abortion restrictions (Richards, CNN, 5/28).


Admitting Privileges Laws Threaten Abortion Access in Large Swaths of U.S.

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 15:11

State laws requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals threaten to leave women in broad areas of the country without abortion access in their region, particularly in rural and low-income parts of the South and Midwest, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Admitting Privileges Laws Threaten Abortion Access in Large Swaths of U.S.

May 29, 2014 — State laws requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals threaten to leave women in broad areas of the country without abortion access in their region, particularly in rural and low-income parts of the South and Midwest, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

The laws are especially harmful for abortion clinics in the South because their doctors often come from out of state to perform abortions and do not have connections to local hospitals, according to the AP/Bee. In addition, some hospitals have religious affiliations that bar them from entering into agreements with abortion providers, while others might not grant privileges to out-of-state physicians, the AP/Bee reports.

Some states already have the admitting privileges requirements in place, and others are under court review. For example, a court allowed a law (HB 2) with the requirements to take effect this year in Texas, where 19 of 33 clinics have closed. Tennessee has a similar law, and measures in Mississippi -- which has just one abortion clinic -- and Alabama are on hold while courts consider lawsuits. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 10 states have laws with admitting privileges requirements, including measures about to be enacted in Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Comments

Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel for CRR, said there are potentially "huge swaths of the country where women's options are becoming severely limited." She disputed claims by supporters of the laws who argue that the requirements safeguard women's health. Admitting privileges requirements are "absolutely not medically necessary" and are really designed to restrict abortion access, she said.

However, Denise Burke, vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life, said the laws are "obvious and medically appropriate regulation[s] of the abortion providers" (Wagster Pettus, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/29).

Richards: Fight Back on Restrictions

The spread of admitting privileges laws across the South threatens to make the U.S. "a country in which a woman's ability to make the private and personal medical decision best for herself and her family will be dependent upon where she happens to live," Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards writes in a CNN opinion piece.

Richards adds that the "only effective way to stop these attacks on women's health is to change who is in office passing these laws." She writes that lawmakers "who are attacking women's health are on the wrong side of this issue," and "thousands of women, men, and young people across the country ... are willing to fight tooth and nail to stop" the abortion restrictions (Richards, CNN, 5/28).


Okla. Gov. Signs Admitting Privileges Bill; La. Gov. To Follow Suit

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 15:03

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Wednesday signed into law a bill (SB 1848) that will require abortion providers in the state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, Reuters reports.

Okla. Gov. Signs Admitting Privileges Bill; La. Gov. To Follow Suit

May 29, 2014 — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Wednesday signed into law a bill (SB 1848) that will require abortion providers in the state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, Reuters reports (Finn, Reuters, 5/28).

SB 1848 also requires the state health board to develop operational standards for clinics that perform abortions. The state Senate last week dropped a provision that would have banned embryonic stem cell research before passing the bill and sending it back to the House for final approval (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/27).

La. Gov. Expected To Sign Admitting Privileges Bill

Meanwhile, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is expected this week to sign into law a bill (HB 388) with a similar admitting privileges requirement, Reuters reports (Reuters, 5/28).

The bill, introduced by state Rep. Katrina Jackson (D), also would create a database that would contain anonymous statistics on the number of abortions performed in the state.

The measure also would require physicians who provide abortions only occasionally to acquire a license from the state if they perform more than five abortions annually, up from more than five monthly under current rules. The doctors' names, locations and status as an abortion provider would be public information.

Further, the bill would extend the state's restrictions on surgical abortions to apply to medication abortions. For example, women seeking medication abortions would face a mandatory delay of 24 hours after requesting the drugs. Medication abortions also would have to be reported to the state Department of Health and Hospitals under the bill (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/22).

Melissa Flournoy, director for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, projected that at least three of the state's five abortion clinics will have to close because of the measure. "It's clear the intent of this legislation is to shut down health centers, which would have devastating consequences for women across Louisiana," she said in a statement (Reuters, 5/28).


N.Y. Dems, Women's Rights Groups Urge Vote on Entire Women's Equality Act

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 15:01

New York Senate Democrats and women's rights groups are urging legislative leaders to hold a floor vote on a package of 10 bills, together called the Women's Equality Act, before the session ends, the Albany Legislative Gazette reports.

N.Y. Dems, Women's Rights Groups Urge Vote on Entire Women's Equality Act

May 29, 2014 — New York Senate Democrats and women's rights groups are urging legislative leaders to hold a floor vote on a package of 10 bills, together called the Women's Equality Act, before the session ends, the Albany Legislative Gazette reports (Fay, Albany Legislative Gazette, 5/27).

Last year, the state Senate passed every measure in the package except an abortion-rights bill, and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) refused to consider the package without the abortion measure.

Democrats reintroduced the measure last week, with Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins saying that the group is committed to passing the package in its entirety.

The bills cover issues such as human trafficking, reproductive rights, sexual harassment, pay equity and protective orders for women. Supporters have said the abortion-rights measure in the package would bring state law in line with the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/21).

Dems Explain Abortion Measure

State Sen. Liz Krueger (D) explained that abortion is regulated under New York's penal code, which means that abortion providers can face criminal charges even if an abortion is in a patient's best interest. She said the WEA would recodify abortion regulations into state health law.

Krueger said that controversy over the abortion measure -- which also clarifies the legality of the procedure to protect a woman's life or health -- mainly stems from conservatives who misinterpret the bill's language to mean that women could have an abortion for any reason (Albany Legislative Gazette, 5/27). Opponents of the bill have claimed it would allow non-physicians to perform abortions up to birth (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/21).

Stewart-Cousins said that Senate Democrats stand "united" on the bill, calling on state Sens. Dean Skelos (R) and Jeff Klein (D) "to bring the entire [WEA] before the state Senate so that all New Yorkers are able to see where their elected officials stand on these important issues, and beyond that, to pass it so we can start to improve the lives of women in New York" (Albany Legislative Gazette, 5/27).


Study: Moral Concerns Present Barriers to HPV Vaccination

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 14:25

Moral concerns about the human papillomavirus vaccine are the leading barrier to vaccination cited by college freshmen, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants' annual meeting, MedPage Today reports.

Study: Moral Concerns Present Barriers to HPV Vaccination

May 29, 2014 — Moral concerns about the human papillomavirus vaccine are the leading barrier to vaccination cited by college freshmen, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants' annual meeting, MedPage Today reports.

Researchers Jamie Phillipich and Margaret Webb of Grand Valley State University questioned 18- and 19-year-old students at the university about perceived barriers to receiving the HPV vaccine. Anonymous online surveys were sent to 1,000 of the university's incoming freshmen, prompting 146 responses, 69.2% of which were from women.

Among 109 responses that included vaccination status, 51.4% of students said they had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine, while 40.4% reported receiving all three doses.

Key Findings

According to the study, 91.2% of respondents cited a mixture of morality-related issues as barriers to getting vaccinated. These issues included a combination of reasons such as the perception that the vaccine promotes sexual behavior, contradicts moral or religious beliefs or goes against parental views.

Other perceived barriers included lack of education about the vaccine, which was cited by 51.2% of respondents; cost, cited by 33.3%; lack of physician recommendation, cited by 25.2%; negative side effects, cited by 17.1%; and "negative media portrayal" of the vaccine, cited by 9.7%.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they obtained information about the vaccine from the media, but more than half of those individuals were skeptical of the information's accuracy.

Researchers' Comments

The researchers wrote, "Vaccination continues to be a controversial topic for parents as rumors swirl through the mass media about the false complications associated with the vaccination."

They added, "As providers, it will be important to impart the most recent guidelines to patients and their families so they have the information they need to make informed decisions" (Susman, MedPage Today, 5/27).


Ark. AG Urges Appeals Court To Uphold 12-Week Abortion Ban

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 14:20

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) on Tuesday urged a federal appeals court to uphold a state law (Act 301) banning abortion at 12 weeks, arguing that it protects women, fetuses and medical professionals, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Ark. AG Urges Appeals Court To Uphold 12-Week Abortion Ban

May 29, 2014 — Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) on Tuesday urged a federal appeals court to uphold a state law (Act 301) banning abortion at 12 weeks, arguing that it protects women, fetuses and medical professionals, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27).

The law prohibits abortions after 12 weeks if a fetal heartbeat is detectable, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest, to save a woman's life or when the fetus has a fatal disorder. A federal judge overturned the law earlier this year, ruling that restricting abortion based on fetal heartbeat rather than on fetal viability is unconstitutional (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/17).

AG's Brief

McDaniel filed a brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking it to overturn the judge's earlier ruling.

He wrote that the law "regulates certain pre-viability abortions without placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking a pre-viability abortion, and in furtherance of the state's legitimate interests in protecting the human life of the fetus, protecting the life and health of the pregnant woman, and protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession."

McDaniel also stated that Arkansas does not wish to present oral arguments before the appeals panel (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27).


Okla. Admitting Privileges Bill Heads to Gov.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 17:56

The Oklahoma House on Friday passed a bill (SB 1848) that would require abortion providers in the state to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, among other provisions, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Okla. Admitting Privileges Bill Heads to Gov.

May 27, 2014 — The Oklahoma House on Friday passed a bill (SB 1848) that would require abortion providers in the state to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, among other provisions, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports. The measure now proceeds to Gov. Mary Fallin (R) (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/23).

SB 1848 also would require the state health board to develop operational standards for clinics that perform abortions (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/28).

The state Senate on Thursday dropped a provision that would have banned embryonic stem cell research before passing the bill and sending it back to the House for final approval.

State Sen. Greg Treat (R), the bill's sponsor, said that while he supports such a ban, he was concerned that including the provision would have violated a state requirement that bills focus on one subject (Hoberock, Tulsa World, 5/23).


Kan. Planned Parenthood Center To Close After State Blocks Federal Funding

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:51

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri announced Friday that it will close its health center in Hays, Kan., to ensure a larger clinic in Wichita can remain open in light of a recent appeals court decision, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Kan. Planned Parenthood Center To Close After State Blocks Federal Funding

May 28, 2014 — Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri announced Friday that it will close its health center in Hays, Kan., to ensure a larger clinic in Wichita can remain open in light of a recent appeals court decision, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

The court ruled that Kansas can block federal Title X family planning funding to the organization.

The Hays health center will see patients until June 26 and will close on June 30. The closure will leave the Ellis County area without a Title X provider.

In addition, PPKM said it would no longer be able to provide no-cost services or contraception to low-income residents at the Wichita center without the Title X funding. However, the organization said that private donations will allow it to continue offering low-cost health care.

According to the AP/Bee, court documents show that both clinics were operating at a loss before the state cut off the funding.

Last year, the centers provided care to more than 3,700 patients with the Title X funding. In total, the two clinics served more than 5,700 people.

Comments

PPKM Interim CEO Ron Ellifrits said in a statement that the organization is "still here for our patients, and we are fighting every day to maintain, restore, or expand access to health care in Kansas despite all [of] the obstacles in our path."

Meanwhile, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Friday that it is working to locate additional family planning services and evaluate other options as it moves toward awarding one-year contracts for Title X providers in the state (Hegeman, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/23).


Admitting Privileges Law Unnecessary, Wis. Abortion Providers Tell Court

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:49

A federal judge on Tuesday heard arguments from abortion providers against a Wisconsin law (SB 206) that providers say is unnecessary and will force a clinic in Milwaukee to close, the AP/Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter reports.

Admitting Privileges Law Unnecessary, Wis. Abortion Providers Tell Court

May 28, 2014 — A federal judge on Tuesday heard arguments from abortion providers against a Wisconsin law (SB 206) that providers say is unnecessary and will force a clinic in Milwaukee to close, the AP/Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter reports (Richmond, AP/Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, 5/27).

The law requires abortion providers in the state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. It has been on hold since last July, when U.S. District Judge William Conley issued a temporary injunction against it after Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged it in court. Conley later issued a preliminary injunction against the law until a hearing could be held on its constitutionality, and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January upheld the ruling (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/2).

Conley on Tuesday heard arguments from Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services protesting the state law. He is scheduled to hear arguments from the state's attorneys on Wednesday.

Plaintiffs' Arguments

The plaintiffs argued that if the AMS clinic closes because its doctors cannot obtain admitting privileges, it would effectively end abortions after 19 weeks of pregnancy in the state because no other facility offers the procedure at that point in pregnancy.

In addition, physician Kathy King, medical director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said the closure of AMS' clinic would create substantial delays for women at Planned Parenthood's clinic in Milwaukee, where AMS' roughly 2,000 annual patients likely would go. She said that delays could extend up to 10 weeks.

Both King and Wendie Ashlock, director of AMS' clinic in Milwaukee, testified that the admitting privileges rules are unnecessary because abortion complications that require hospitalization are extremely rare. Ashlock said that just three of the 5,000 clinic patients in 2012 and 2013 required hospitalization, while King said that four patients out of 8,400 at Planned Parenthood's Milwaukee clinic were transferred to a hospital between 2009 and 2013.

Ashlock and King also testified about the difficulty of obtaining admitting privileges. Ashlock noted that it took a Milwaukee hospital nine months to reject admitting privileges requests for AMS' physicians, while King said it took her 10 months to obtain the privileges for Planned Parenthood physicians (AP/Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, 5/27).


La. Senate Advances Bill Restricting Pregnant Women's End-of-Life Care

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:46

The Louisiana Senate approved in a 36-2 vote a bill (HB 348) that would require health care providers to maintain medical care for pregnant women who are brain dead until birth if an obstetrician determines that a woman's body "can reasonably be maintained in such a way as to permit the continuing development and live birth of the unborn child," the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

La. Senate Advances Bill Restricting Pregnant Women’s End-of-Life Care

May 28, 2014 — The Louisiana Senate approved in a 36-2 vote a bill (HB 348) that would require health care providers to maintain medical care for pregnant women who are brain dead until birth if an obstetrician determines that a woman's body "can reasonably be maintained in such a way as to permit the continuing development and live birth of the unborn child," the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (DeSlatte, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27).


The chamber approved new language in a 20-18 vote that would permit a woman's spouse, children, parents or siblings to make the final decision.

Nevers argued against the change, saying that physicians should do everything possible to "protect that unborn child."

However, state Sen. J.P. Morrell (D) said, "What you're talking about is having the government decide what happens to your loved one if [she is] on life support. ... That should be terrifying to people."

The measure now returns to the state House for consideration (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27).


La. Senate Advances Mandatory Counseling Measure

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:42

The Louisiana Senate voted 30-4 to pass a measure (HB 1262) that would require women seeking abortions to be given written materials on the potential impact of the procedure, as well as information on human trafficking, abuse and the illegality of coerced abortion, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

La. Senate Advances Mandatory Counseling Measure

May 28, 2014 — The Louisiana Senate voted 30-4 to pass a measure (HB 1262) that would require women seeking abortions to be given written materials on the potential impact of the procedure, as well as information on human trafficking, abuse and the illegality of coerced abortion, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (DeSlatte, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27).

 The information also would list resources for women facing any of those situations (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/11). Abortion providers would have to distribute the information at the start of the state's 24-hour mandatory delay before a woman can receive an abortion.


The measure now returns to the state House for a final vote (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27).