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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Okla. House Advances 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill, Embryonic Stem Cell Restrictions

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 18:28

An Oklahoma House committee on Wednesday voted 6-4 to advance a bill (HB 1409) that would require women to undergo biased counseling with a physician at least 72 hours before an abortion, up from 24 hours under current state law, the Tulsa World reports.

Okla. House Advances 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill, Embryonic Stem Cell Restrictions

February 6, 2015 — An Oklahoma House committee on Wednesday voted 6-4 to advance a bill (HB 1409) that would require women to undergo biased counseling with a physician at least 72 hours before an abortion, up from 24 hours under current state law, the Tulsa World reports (Hoberock, Tulsa World, 2/5). The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

The state's biased counseling law requires health care providers to provide certain information to women before an abortion, including the current length of gestation of the pregnancy and that fetal heartbeat monitoring and ultrasound services are available.

Debate

State Rep. Doug Cox (R), an emergency department physician, said the bill would increase government interference in a decision that should be made between a woman and her physician (AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/4). Cox pointed out that the bill would create additional barriers to abortion access for low-income women, particularly from rural areas, because of the associated travel costs.

In addition, state Rep. Jeannie McDaniel (D) asked bill author state Rep. Lisa Billy (R) whether the legislation, which covers three subjects, would violate a state constitutional requirement that all legislation involve a single subject. McDaniel pointed out that courts have struck down some of the state's other abortion restrictions.

Billy said she thought the bill would withstand a court challenge (Tulsa World, 2/5). She added that her bill is about "empower[ing] women."

Ban on Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The same House committee on Wednesday also voted to advance a bill (HB 1379) that would make it a felony to perform research with embryonic stem cells in certain cases, the AP/Star Tribune reports (AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/4). The measure passed by a vote of 5-4.

Specifically, the measure "would prohibit 'nontherapeutic research' involving embryonic stem cells," with such research defined as "research that is not intended to help preserve the life and health of the particular embryo subjected to risk."

The bill text also states that nontherapeutic research "does not include in vitro fertilization and accompanying embryo transfer to the body of a female, nor any diagnostic test which may assist in the future care of a child subjected to the tests, nor the extraction of adult stem cells."

Cox noted that embryonic stem cell research is not currently being conducted in the state. However, he warned that the measure could inhibit attempts to find cures for certain diseases, such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.

State Rep. Dan Fisher (R), who authored the bill, countered that it would not hamper scientific research and is only intended to address intentional destruction of such cells (Tulsa World, 2/5).

The bill now proceeds to the floor of the state House. According to the AP/Star Tribune, similar measures have failed in previous sessions (AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/4).

Rep. Speier, Sen. Shaheen Reintroduce Bill To End Contraception Copays for Military Women

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 18:23

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) on Wednesday introduced legislation (HR 742, S 358) that would require the military's health plan, TRICARE, to cover contraceptive services and counseling without copayments, The Hill reports.

Rep. Speier, Sen. Shaheen Reintroduce Bill To End Contraception Copays for Military Women

February 6, 2015 — Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) on Wednesday introduced legislation (HR 742, S 358) that would require the military's health plan, TRICARE, to cover contraceptive services and counseling without copayments, The Hill reports (Wong, The Hill, 2/5).

Bill Details

Speier and Shaheen introduced similar legislation last year.

Currently, active-duty servicewomen have access to prescription drugs, including contraceptives, without copays. However, women who are not on active duty and other women covered through TRICARE have varying levels of copays, depending on the type of contraceptive. The plan covers nearly 10 million individuals, including service members, military retirees and their families (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/22/14).

Speier noted in a statement that while the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) "guarantees civilian women coverage of women's health preventive services, such as access to ... FDA-approved contraception and counseling without cost sharing, this policy does not apply to many servicewomen and dependents covered through TRICARE."

She added that recent studies have found unplanned pregnancy rates are about 50% higher among female services members compared with the general population.

The House bill has 65 co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats.

Comments

Service Women's Action Network Interim CEO Erica Hunt said in the statement with Speier that "servicewomen do not have access to the reproductive health care and education they need," adding that the legislation would "help meet the health needs of the entire force, including servicewomen, and is critical to the military's ability to accomplish its mission."

Speier added, "We owe female servicemembers the same access to contraception and family planning services as the women they fight to protect."

Women's and health groups also support the legislation, The Hill reports (The Hill, 2/5).

Blogs Comment on Obama Budget, Purvi Patel Case, Hyde Amendment, More

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:33

Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the New York Times, RH Reality Check and more.

Blogs Comment on Obama Budget, Purvi Patel Case, Hyde Amendment, More

February 6, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the New York Times, RH Reality Check and more.

CONTRACEPTION: "Contraceptive Coverage for Women in the Military," Dorothy Samuels, New York Times ' "Taking Note": Samuels writes about legislation (HR 742, S 358) proposed in Congress this week that "would make the full range of F.D.A.approved contraceptive methods available with no co-pay to the millions of women who rely on the military for their health care, including dependents." She notes that such coverage is already the case for "civilian federal employees and required in most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act [PL 111-148]." Samuels explains, "While active-duty military currently have no cost-sharing for prescriptions, service members not on active duty and dependents must pay a portion of the cost of birth control obtained outside a military treatment facility." She adds that the legislation "would also improve access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault and the quality and accessibility of family planning counseling services" and "require military health facilities to stock 'a broad range' of contraception methods." However, she flags that no conservative lawmakers have sponsored the measure so far, adding, "The question now for [conservative lawmakers] is whether their ... antipathy to supporting contraception access extends to disrespecting the contributions and sacrifices of women serving their country in the military" (Samuels, "Taking Note," New York Times, 2/5).

OBAMA BUDGET PROPOSAL: "President Obama's 2016 Budget Draws Praise, Criticism From Women's Health Advocates," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: Crockett highlights several positive proposals in President Obama's 2016 budget, including measures that would expand "paid sick and maternity leave," "fund evidence-based teen sex education" and "increase funding for Title X family planning programs" by $13.5 million, to $300 million. In addition, she says that advocacy groups also praised the inclusion of a provision that would end "the ban on Washington, D.C., using its own funds to pay for abortion coverage through Medicaid -- which it has year after year despite annual Republican moves to put the ban back into place." However, Crockett adds that women's health advocates criticized Obama for not reversing "the Hyde Amendment -- which has prohibited federal funds from covering abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment since 1976." She notes that 20 House lawmakers who support abortion rights had called on the president last month to not include the amendment in his budget (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 2/3).

What others are saying about Obama's budget proposal:

~ "Budgeting Away Women's Reproductive Rights," Georgeanne Usova, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights."

CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Indiana Woman Found Guilty of Feticide and Neglect for Having a Miscarriage," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing: Dusenbery describes a recent trial involving an Indiana woman's miscarriage as an example of how "giving 'personhood' rights to fetuses" through laws that hold women "accountable" for pregnancy outcomes "means that every miscarriage must be treated as a potential crime." According to Dusenbery, the woman, Purvi Patel, faces a maximum sentence of 70 years after a jury found her guilty of "two mutually contradictory charges -- feticide and felony neglect," even though the prosecution "was unable to prove that Patel took" pills to induce abortion and "the only evidence that the fetus had been born alive ... was weak." Further, Dusenbery writes that if Patel did take medication abortion drugs, "it's likely because Indiana has made getting a legal abortion very difficult." She notes that "only four cities in Indiana have abortion clinics" and that "women must submit" to mandatory delays and biased counseling before they can obtain the procedure (Dusenberry, Feministing, 2/5).

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Codifying Racial Injustice: The Hyde Amendment and H.R. 7," David Grimes, Huffington Post  blogs: Grimes, former head of CDC's Abortion Surveillance Branch, writes about how "[t]he Hyde Amendment and H.R. 7," a bill recently approved in the House that would codify the Hyde Amendment, "punish America's poor." Grimes explains that the amendment "has prohibited use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortion, with the rare exceptions of rape, incest and life endangerment" since the 1970s. He discusses how the amendment disproportionally affects low-income and minority populations, noting that African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to have low incomes, rely on Medicaid health benefits, experience unintended pregnancy and require abortion services. The amendment and bill essentially "establish a two-class system of medical care" by "[d]epriving large numbers of citizens equal access to constitutionally-protected health care," Grimes writes, adding that President Obama has pledged to veto the bill (Grimes, Huffington Post blogs, 2/4).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions and access:

~ "Montana Supreme Court Says State Can Defend Parental Involvement Statutes," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.

~ "It's Already Difficult To Get an Abortion at Missouri's Only Clinic. This Bill Might Make It Harder," Megan Thielking, Vox.


Study: Modern Contraceptive Use Could Prevent 15M Unintended Pregnancies in Certain Countries

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:27

Increased access to modern forms of contraception could have prevented 15 million unintended pregnancies in low- and middle-income countries over a seven-year period, according to a report by WHO epidemiologists published in Human Reproduction, Medical News Today reports.

Study: Modern Contraceptive Use Could Prevent 15M Unintended Pregnancies in Certain Countries

February 6, 2015 — Increased access to modern forms of contraception could have prevented 15 million unintended pregnancies in low- and middle-income countries over a seven-year period, according to a report by WHO epidemiologists published in Human Reproduction, Medical News Today reports (MacGill, Medical News Today, 2/5).

Unintended pregnancies in the countries studied can have many "serious" consequences, such as death, disability, disease, and reduced educational and employment opportunities, according to HealthDay/U.S News & World Report.

Report Details

Researchers investigated the use of contraception and the reasons for contraceptive choices among women ages 15 to 49 in 35 countries from 2005 to 2012. They asked women about the forms of contraception they used and classified the methods as either "modern" or "traditional."

According to the study, modern contraceptive methods include condoms, intrauterine devices, oral and injectable contraceptives, implants and sterilization (Preidt, HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report, 2/4). Intercourse while a woman was exclusively breastfeeding and had not resumed menstruation since birth, a period when she is assumed unable to conceive, was also considered a modern method (Medical News Today, 2/5).

The study classified withdrawal and planning intercourse around the woman's menstrual cycle as traditional methods.

Key Findings

Women who used traditional methods of contraception had a risk of unintended pregnancy that was 2.7 times higher than women who used modern methods, while women who did not use any contraceptive method had a risk that was 14.5 higher than those using modern methods.

In total, the study found the risk of using traditional methods or opting not to use contraception results in roughly 16 million unplanned pregnancies per year across the 35 countries. According to the study, the use of modern contraception could have prevented 15 million of those pregnancies.

In addition, the researchers found that 13.5 million women were not using modern contraception, and 1.5 million of those who did were using it incorrectly.

The study found that 37% of women who did not use any contraceptive methods but who did not want to get pregnant said they were concerned about potential side effects or health concerns. By contrast, 22% of women who did not use any contraception cited opposition to birth control; around 18% underestimated their risk of pregnancy; 2.4% cited cost; and 2.4% cited a lack of awareness about how to obtain contraceptives or about available methods.

Comments

Howard Sobel -- a study author and regional coordinator in WHO's Western Pacific Regional Office's reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent division -- called for "national strategies" that would "address unfounded health concerns, fear of side effects, opposition and underestimated risk of pregnancy." He suggested such measures "need to be coupled with good quality contraception that is available and affordable" (HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report, 2/4).


Video Round Up: Planned Parenthood's Fight for a New Orleans Clinic, House Lawmaker Discusses Reversal on Abortion Rights, More

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 17:16

In today's clips, Cosmopolitan's Jill Filipovic delves into efforts by abortion-rights opponents to stop the opening of a new comprehensive Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans. Elsewhere, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) explains why, in a reversal, he has come to support abortion rights.

Video Round Up: Planned Parenthood's Fight for a New Orleans Clinic, House Lawmaker Discusses Reversal on Abortion Rights, More

February 6, 2015 — In today's clips, Cosmopolitan's Jill Filipovic delves into efforts by abortion-rights opponents to stop the opening of a new comprehensive Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans. Elsewhere, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) explains why, in a reversal, he has come to support abortion rights.



MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry talks with a panel about how Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, in its attempt to open a new clinic in New Orleans, "has faced just about every obstacle imaginable" from opponents of abortion rights. The clinic will offer a comprehensive slate of reproductive health care services.

Cosmopolitan's Jill Filipovic, who investigated abortion-rights opponents' interference in the construction project and opening of the clinic, explains that while many New Orleans residents "realize that Louisiana has a whole slew of health care challenges, and they want this clinic built," antiabortion-rights opponents, particularly outside groups, have fought against the clinic, including by threatening businesses that might support PPGC's efforts (Harris-Perry, "Melissa Harris-Perry," MSNBC, 1/24).




Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell discuss why, in a reversal, Ryan now supports abortion rights. Ryan explains, "I just feel like Uncle Sam should not be sitting in the doctor's office ... having any role in making" decisions about abortion (O'Donnell, "The Last Word," MSNBC, 1/28).




Slate's Aisha Harris speaks with Paul Weitz, director of the film "Grandma," and Lily Tomlin, who plays a woman in the film who becomes closer with her granddaughter after she asks Tomlin's character for financial help to obtain an abortion. Tomlin notes that the topic of abortion used to be far more "taboo" in the 1960s and 1970s, but that more people are open to talking about the subject now (Harris, Slate, 1/30).

Some Insurers Charging Copays for Generic Contraceptives Under ACA

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 15:45

Some insurers that are subject to Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) rules requiring coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptives without cost-sharing are charging their members copayments for some generics, Kaiser Health News reports.

Some Insurers Charging Copays for Generic Contraceptives Under ACA

February 6, 2015 — Some insurers that are subject to Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) rules requiring coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptives without cost-sharing are charging their members copayments for some generics, Kaiser Health News reports.

KHN cites an example of an insurer that moved a woman's generic birth control from a tier in the plan's drug formulary that requires no copay to another tier requiring $19 per month in cost-sharing (Andrews, Kaiser Health News, 2/6).

Federal guidance on the contraceptive coverage rules states that most insurers must cover the full range of FDA-approved methods without cost-sharing. Insurers are permitted to use "reasonable medical management techniques" to curb costs, such as only covering the generic version of an approved contraceptive (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/22/14).

However, that does not mean that an insurer can charge for certain generics simply because it offers others without copays, according to Adam Sonfield, senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute.

Sonfield said, "All generics aren't the same. All of the different [generic] formulations should be on the zero [cost-sharing] tier, but that isn't clear in the current guidelines." Some insurers also have argued that they should not have to cover the contraceptive patch or vaginal ring because the same hormones are used in birth control pills, KHN reports. However, HHS officials have said that because they are different types of methods, they all must be covered (Kaiser Health News, 2/6).


Nev. Bill Would Require HPV Vaccination Before Enrolling in School

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:56

Nevada lawmakers on Monday introduced a bill (SB 117) that would add vaccinations against human papillomavirus and meningitis to the list of inoculations children must receive prior to enrolling in daycare, public school or private school, the AP/Miami Herald reports.

Nev. Bill Would Require HPV Vaccination Before Enrolling in School

February 5, 2015 — Nevada lawmakers on Monday introduced a bill (SB 117) that would add vaccinations against human papillomavirus and meningitis to the list of inoculations children must receive prior to enrolling in daycare, public school or private school, the AP/Miami Herald reports.

Current state law already requires most schoolchildren to follow medically recommended immunization schedules for several vaccines, including those for measles, polio and whooping cough. Parents are allowed to obtain exemptions for their children for medical or religious reasons (Rindels, AP/Miami Herald, 2/3).

Background

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. It is linked to cervical, vaginal, vulvar, oral, penile and anal cancers, as well as genital warts.

CDC recommends that girls and boys begin the three-dose HPV vaccination series at age 11 or 12 and receive the three doses over an eight-month period. The vaccine can prevent the most common cancer-causing strains of the virus (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/13/14).

About 27% of girls and 7% of boys ages 13 to 17 in Nevada have received all three doses of the vaccine, which is below the national average, according to the AP/Herald.

Comments, Next Steps

Opponents of requiring HPV vaccination have argued that the vaccines promote promiscuity. However, Immunize Nevada Executive Director Heidi Parker said, "Studies have shown that it does not increase promiscuity," adding, "The important message is that [the] HPV vaccine is cancer prevention."

State Sen. Joe Hardy (R), chair of the state Senate committee that sponsored the bill, said, "If we vaccinate people, we can prevent diseases that are not only horrific but deadly."

According to the AP/Herald, the bill will be referred to the state Senate Education Committee (AP/Miami Herald, 2/3).


Mont. Supreme Court Reverses Ruling on Parental Involvement Laws

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:56

The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a lower court decision that found the state could not defend two parental involvement laws (LR 120, HR 391) because a prior case had found similar restrictions unconstitutional, the Missoulian reports.

Mont. Supreme Court Reverses Ruling on Parental Involvement Laws

February 5, 2015 — The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a lower court decision that found the state could not defend two parental involvement laws (LR 120, HR 391) because a prior case had found similar restrictions unconstitutional, the Missoulian reports.

The ruling sends the case back to state district court for consideration (Dennison, Missoulian, 2/4).

Background

One law, which was approved through a ballot measure in 2012, mandates that minors younger than age 16 notify their parents before obtaining an abortion. The law includes exceptions for medical emergencies and for minors who petition a youth court for a waiver.

The other law requires minors under age 18 to obtain notarized parental consent before abortions.

In a lawsuit filed in May 2013, Planned Parenthood of Montana noted that a Montana court in the 1999 struck down a parental involvement law for violating a minor's right to abortion. PPMT argued that the current measures restrict minors' rights in a similar way.

In 2014, state District Judge Jeffery Sherlock ruled in favor of PPMT, noting that the state had to drop its defense of the two laws because the requirements had already been struck down by the 1999 ruling (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/6/14).

Following Sherlock's ruling, the state appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.

Latest Ruling

In a 4-1 decision, the state Supreme Court said that the issues in the 1999 case and the latest challenge were not identical, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

The majority noted differences between the laws, pointing out that the law in the 1999 challenge applied to all minors, whereas the ballot measure applied only to those under 16. In addition, the justices pointed out that the law enacted in 2013 requires consent, whereas the law in 1999 case required notification (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/3).

Justice Patricia Cotter dissented, writing that both cases essentially relate to the constitutional question of whether the state's interests justify impinging a pregnant minors' right to decide to have an abortion, according to the Missoulian.

She wrote that questions in the 1999 case about the state's interest in "protecting minors against their own immaturity" and "protecting the constitutional rights of parents to rear children who are members of their household" are the same to those presented by the new laws. She noted the differences between the laws are "immaterial" and do not factor into the constitutional questions Missoulian (Missoulian, 2/4).

Comments

PPMT CEO Martha Stahl said, "We remain fully confident that these laws are not only bad health policy, but also clear violations of young Montana women's constitutional rights."

Separately, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox (R) said, "Today's ruling means we can move forward in vigorously defending the fundamental rights of parents to be involved in the decisions their children face" (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/3).


Video Round Up: Planned Parenthood's Fight for a New Orleans Clinic, House Lawmaker Discusses Reversal on Abortion Right

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:44

In today's clips, Cosmopolitan's Jill Filipovic delves into efforts by abortion-rights opponents to stop the opening of a new comprehensive Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans. Elsewhere, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) explains why, in a reversal, he has come to support abortion rights.

Video Round Up: Planned Parenthood's Fight for a New Orleans Clinic, House Lawmaker Discusses Reversal on Abortion Rights, More

February 5, 2015 — In today's clips, Cosmopolitan's Jill Filipovic delves into efforts by abortion-rights opponents to stop the opening of a new comprehensive Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans. Elsewhere, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) explains why, in a reversal, he has come to support abortion rights.



MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry talks with a panel about how Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, in its attempt to open a new clinic in New Orleans, "has faced just about every obstacle imaginable" from opponents of abortion rights. The clinic will offer a comprehensive slate of reproductive health care services.

Cosmopolitan's Jill Filipovic, who investigated abortion-rights opponents' interference in the construction project and opening of the clinic, explains that while many New Orleans residents "realize that Louisiana has a whole slew of health care challenges, and they want this clinic built," antiabortion-rights opponents, particularly outside groups, have fought against the clinic, including by threatening businesses that might support PPGC's efforts (Harris-Perry, "Melissa Harris-Perry," MSNBC, 1/24).




Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell discuss why, in a reversal, Ryan now supports abortion rights. Ryan explains, "I just feel like Uncle Sam should not be sitting in the doctor's office ... having any role in making" decisions about abortion (O'Donnell, "The Last Word," MSNBC, 1/28).




Slate's Aisha Harris speaks with Paul Weitz, director of the film "Grandma," and Lily Tomlin, who plays a woman in the film who becomes closer with her granddaughter after she asks Tomlin's character for financial help to obtain an abortion. Tomlin notes that the topic of abortion used to be far more "taboo" in the 1960s and 1970s, but that more people are open to talking about the subject now (Harris, Slate, 1/30).

Blogs Comment on Anti-Choice 'Playbook,' IUD Facts, More

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:32

Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at ANSIRH, Ms. Magazine and more.

Blogs Comment on Anti-Choice 'Playbook,' IUD Facts, More

January 30, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at ANSIRH, Ms. Magazine and more.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Will Abortion Opponents Use a Familiar Playbook To Push for a 20 Week Ban?" Carole Joffe, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health's "ANSIRH Blog": Although the House earlier this month canceled a vote on a 20-week abortion ban (HR 36), it "is not the end of the story for the federal 20 week ban" because "a modified version of this bill will be voted on at a later date," Joffe writes. Joffe explains that abortion-rights opponents' justification behind such bans, "that the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks," has been widely dismissed "by medical experts, and by organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology." She writes that in pushing for the ban, "anti-abortion politicians are following a tried and true playbook: choose an aspect of abortion provision that is unsettling to a public that is not informed about the science, ignore the testimony of leading medical experts on the abortion issue, and instead, rely on arguments made by alternative 'experts,' who may lack the credentials or research background in their purported areas of expertise or draw on so-called junk science" (Joffe, "ANSIRH Blog," ANSIRH, 1/27).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Who Has Late Abortions -- And Why?" David Grimes, Huffington Post blogs.

CONTRACEPTION: "IUD Expulsion: Is it as Scary as it Sounds?" Claire Tighe, Ms. Magazine blog: Tighe comments on the various ways an intrauterine device can become "expelled," which, according to an article by Corinne Rocca, "'is a fancy way of saying that an IUD has been pushed out of its ideal location at the top of the uterus.'" According to Tighe, expulsion is rare, occurring between 0.05% and 8% of the time, but "[t]here are a few different factors that can affect the possibility of expulsion, like your age and pregnancy history, how long it's been since the IUD was inserted, and even how well your health care provider inserted the IUD in the first place." She notes the IUDs are more likely to be expelled during menstruation than other times in a woman's cycle and are "most likely" to become expelled during "the first three months" following insertion. Tighe writes that women concerned about a possible expulsion should check to see if they can feel the IUD's strings and call a provider, among other care suggestions (Tighe, Ms. Magazine blog, 1/27).

What others are saying about contraception:

~ "Salon's Guide to Where Babies (Don't) Come From: Let's Talk About IUDs!" Katie McDonough, Salon.

ABORTION PROVIDERS: "Threats Against Abortion Providers Have Doubled Since 2010, Report Finds," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: "[T]here has been significantly higher levels of threats and targeted intimidation of doctors and staff in recent years" across the U.S., according to the National Clinic Violence Survey, Wilson writes. According to Wilson, the report found the "[i]ncidents of wanted-style posters of abortion providers, pamphlets targeting doctors and clinic staff, and harmful information and pictures of doctors posted on the Internet have all significantly increased over the past four years." Further, the survey found that 8.7% of clinics reported stalking in 2014, an increase from 6.4% in 2010, and 19.7% of clinics reported "severe violence." He adds, "Increases in the incidents of harassment of abortion clinics appear to coincide with the increasing amount of legislation passed to restrict access to reproductive health care" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 1/28).

What others are saying about abortion providers:

~ "The Disturbing Levels of Stalking and Intimidation Plaguing Abortion Doctors," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

MEDICATION ABORTION: "Study: Evidence-Based Protocols for Medication Abortion are Safe, Effective," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: A new study has found "evidence-based alternatives to the [FDA]-approved regimen for medication abortion are safe and effective," Crockett writes. She notes that the five-year study found that "the protocols were more than 98 percent effective for pregnancies of up to 42 days' gestation, and more than 95 percent effective up to 63 days." By contrast, FDA protocols "only recommend using medication abortion up until 49 days of gestation ... and are less than 85 percent effective after 49 days," in addition to requiring a "higher dose of medication and more doctor's visits," she writes. According to Crockett, the study adds to the "robust body of evidence" that laws restricting medication abortion by requiring physicians adhere to FDA protocol "have no scientific basis" (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 1/28).


N.C. Abortion-Rights Supporters Warn Against More Clinic Regulations

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:32

North Carolina abortion-rights groups and their legislative allies are urging antiabortion-rights state lawmakers to not make ideologically driven changes to clinic regulations proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory's (R) administration, the AP/Winston-Salem Journal reports.

N.C. Abortion-Rights Supporters Warn Against More Clinic Regulations

February 2, 2015 — North Carolina abortion-rights groups and their legislative allies are urging antiabortion-rights state lawmakers to not make ideologically driven changes to clinic regulations proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory's (R) administration, the AP/Winston-Salem Journal reports (AP/Winston Salem Journal, 1/29).

Background

The rules were developed under a 2013 law (SL 2013-366) requiring the state Department of Health and Human Services to assess regulations for abortion providers and propose revised measures relating to safety, the Fayetteville Observer reports (Woolverton, Fayetteville Observer, 1/29). The proposed changes were announced in December, and the period for public comment closed Jan. 30 (Walton, Asheville Citizen-Times, 1/30).

Response to Proposal

Abortion-rights supporters opposed the underlying law out of concern that it would result in onerous restrictions that could force clinics to close. However, Democratic state lawmakers and abortion-rights groups said at a press conference last week that the state appears to have taken medical facts and patient safety into account and developed reasonable rules.

Planned Parenthood provided input on the rules (AP/Winston Salem Journal, 1/29). Under the proposal, clinics would be required to have a defibrillator on site, a 24-hour phone line to handle calls, quality assurance committees and emergency-transfer agreements with area hospitals.

State Rep. Rick Glazier (D) said he was "pleasantly surprised and happy at the process [DHHS] used" to create the rules (Campbell, Raleigh News & Observer, 1/29).

Obstetrician Matthew Zerden, who works with University of North Carolina hospitals, said, "It appears that the right balance was struck between protecting access to a critical reproductive health care service and overseeing clinic safety" (AP/Winston Salem Journal, 1/29).

State Rep. Susan Fisher (D) noted that there are already many barriers to abortion in North Carolina. Currently, there is no abortion provider in the western part of the state (Asheville Citizen-Times, 1/30).

Look Ahead

Conservative lawmakers have said the proposed regulations do not go far enough or follow the intent of the law. Two antiabortion-rights Republican lawmakers said on Thursday that they are considering proposing additional regulations but that they would probably be incremental revisions, as changes at this point would set back the implementation process, according to the AP/Journal (AP/Winston Salem Journal, 1/29).

Abortion-rights supporters in the state Legislature said they would oppose any efforts to add additional restrictions, if they arise. "It is time for the legislature to stay in its own lane and let the medical professionals do their jobs," Glazier said (Raleigh News & Observer, 1/29).


Ark. House Approves Measure To Restrict Medication Abortion

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:31

The Arkansas House on Monday voted 83-4 to approve a measure (HB 1076) that would require physicians to administer medication abortion drugs in person, the Southwest Times Record reports.

Ark. House Approves Measure To Restrict Medication Abortion

February 4, 2015 — The Arkansas House on Monday voted 83-4 to approve a measure (HB 1076) that would require physicians to administer medication abortion drugs in person, the Southwest Times Record reports.

The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration. According to the Times Record, 20 of the 34 state senators are co-sponsoring the measure (Lyon, Southwest Times Record, 2/3).

Bill Details

The measure, introduced by state Rep. Julie Mayberry (R), would require providers to administer the drugs in person and "make all reasonable efforts" to see a woman who took the drugs within 12 to 18 days for a follow-up. The bill would allow the woman who received the abortion or the man involved in the pregnancy to sue a physician who does not follow the requirements (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/2).

Comments

During debate on the measure, Mayberry said the bill would preemptively ban the use of telemedicine in abortion care, which does not currently take place in the state (Southwest Times Record, 2/3).

Separately, state Rep. John Walker (D), who voted against the measure, said the bill would "mak[e] it very difficult for people of low means, where medical care is limited, to have equal access to health care" (Reed, AP/Gulfport Sun Herald, 2/2).


La. Abortion-Rights Supporters Speak Out Against Clinic Regulations

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:30

Abortion-rights advocates on Thursday testified at a Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals hearing that the agency has gone too far in its proposed abortion regulations, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

La. Abortion-Rights Supporters Speak Out Against Clinic Regulations

February 2, 2015 — Abortion-rights advocates on Thursday testified at a Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals hearing that the agency has gone too far in its proposed abortion regulations, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 1/30).

Rule Details

According to the state DHH, the proposed regulations revise current rules to accommodate several recently enacted laws and clearly outline the state's clinic licensing and staffing requirements. If the clinics do not comply, they could face closure. Among other rules, the proposed regulations include requirements that clinics maintain detailed records of "every 'job skill' of every employee" and annual employee evaluations on the specific job skills, according to the AP/Idaho Statesman.

DHH spokesperson Olivia Watkins acknowledged that some of the new requirements "are outside of the specific legislative mandates"(Deslatte, AP/Idaho Statesman, 1/29).

According to the Advocate, DHH accepted public comments on the proposed rules through Jan. 30. Next, the department will address the comments and release a report to the state Legislature's committees on health (Baton Rouge Advocate, 1/30). DHH said it will also consider the public comments made during the hearing (AP/Idaho Statesman, 1/29).

The rules could take effect as early as March 20, the Advocate reports.

Testimony Details

According to the Advocate, around 80 people attended the hearing. No speakers who commented on the proposed rules spoke in support of them.

Ellie Schilling, a New Orleans-based attorney who represents abortion clinics, said the proposed "regulations vastly exceed DHH's statutory authority" and mark a "vast overreach to severely overregulate abortions in a punitive way" (Baton Rouge Advocate, 1/30). For example, she said the rules limit clinics' ability to appeal revoked licenses and impose extensive operational requirements and duplicative paperwork requirements.

Such overregulation would make it "very easy then to deprive [clinics] of their license," she added (AP/Idaho Statesman, 1/29). According to the Advocate, Schilling presented letters and petitions containing more than 8,000 signatures of individuals opposed to the proposed requirements.

Schilling also noted that abortion providers in the state are looking into filing a legal challenge against the proposed rules.

Separately, Julie Finger, a New Orleans-based pediatrician, called the proposed rules a "medically unnecessary, unsound, politically motivated and targeted attack on abortion providers." Finger also noted that she has "serious concerns" about the proposal's potential effects on patient-physician privacy rights (Baton Rouge Advocate, 1/30).


Breast Cancer Deaths Down Sharply Over Past 20 Years

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:28

Deaths from breast cancer declined by 34% from 1990 to 2011, according to the most recent government statistics, USA Today reports.

Breast Cancer Deaths Down Sharply Over Past 20 Years

February 5, 2015 — Deaths from breast cancer declined by 34% from 1990 to 2011, according to the most recent government statistics, USA Today reports.

Specifically, the number of breast cancer deaths decreased from 33 per 100,000 women in 1990 to 22 per 100,000 women in 2011. Experts believe the decline has continued since 2011.

The American Cancer Society said the decrease means that more than 200,000 deaths were averted.

Reasons for Decline

American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Otis Brawley said improvements in breast cancer treatment, including the development of targeted chemotherapy and the estrogen blocker Tamoxifen, are the main reason for the decline in mortality.

Susan G. Komen Health and Mission Program Education Managing Director Susan Brown also said treatment is becoming more targeted and individualized as scientists gain greater understanding of tumors.

Further, Brawley noted that breast cancer awareness has increased and that mammography rates have improved. Between 2005 and 2010, 67% of women ages 40 and older received a mammogram, up from 29% in 1987, according to USA Today.

However, Brawley said future declines in the mortality rate might not be as large, in part because certain types of breast cancer remain difficult to treat (Ungar, USA Today, 2/3).


Obama, Some States Look To Increase Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:27

President Obama and some state lawmakers are looking to shift away from abstinence-only sexuality education programs toward encouraging comprehensive, evidence-based programs and teen pregnancy prevention, the International Business Times reports.

Obama, Some States Look To Increase Comprehensive Sexuality Education

February 5, 2015 — President Obama and some state lawmakers are looking to shift away from abstinence-only sexuality education programs toward encouraging comprehensive, evidence-based programs and teen pregnancy prevention, the International Business Times reports.

Currently, 22 states and Washington, D.C., require some form of sex education in public schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some states prioritize abstinence-only sex education, which studies have shown is not effective in preventing sexual activity among teens. Some other states use comprehensive programs that include instruction on contraceptives and relationships.

Funding Shifts

The federal government has had a "complicated" history with funding for state sex education efforts over the years, according to the Business Times (Glum, International Business Times, 2/4). Obama has sought to eliminate funding for abstinence-only programs, which were championed under the George W. Bush administration, since his 2010 budget, but Congress has continued the funding in budget deals (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/6/14). Federal money for abstinence-only programs also has flowed to states through the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148).

According to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, federal funding through the Title V Abstinence Education Grant Program is scheduled to expire at the end of fiscal year 2015. Obama in his fiscal year 2016 budget did not include funding for the Title V abstinence program.

Obama's budget proposal also calls for $105 million in funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, an increase of $4 million (International Business Times, 2/4). TPPI supports programs that provide comprehensive, evidence-based sex education (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/21/11). Further, Obama's budget plan calls for $37 million in funding for the Division of Adolescent and School Health, an increase of $6 million.

State Proposals

Lawmakers in at least 18 states have proposed bills relating to sex education in 2015, the Business Times reports. According to the Business Times, some of the bills call for abstinence-only education, but other efforts, when combined with Obama's budget proposal, "could indicate the United States is finally shifting away from abstinence-only programs."

For example, lawmakers in Arizona (HB 2476), Hawaii (HB 459) and Texas (HB 78) have proposed measures that would emphasize waiting to have sex but also include instruction on how to be safe if they do have sex.

In addition, a Missouri bill (HB 670) would require schools to teach critical thinking and stress management skills to students as part of sex education, while legislation proposed in New Jersey could add discussions about rape for students in grades seven through 12. Further, legislation (A 1616, S 700) proposed in New York would create a grant program for funding entities that teach sex education that does not include religious elements (International Business Times, 2/4).


Blogs Comment on 'Onslaught of State Abortion Restrictions,' Reproductive Justice, More

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:26

Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the American Constitution Society, Huffington Post and more.

Blogs Comment on 'Onslaught of State Abortion Restrictions,' Reproductive Justice, More

February 3, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the American Constitution Society, Huffington Post and more.

ABORTION RESTRCITIONS: "The Onslaught of State Abortion Restrictions Falls Hardest on Those Least Able To Access Care," Kelli Garcia, American Constitution Society's "ACS Blog": "Between 2011 and 2013, politicians in 30 states enacted 205 abortion restrictions," which make it more difficult or "impossible" for many women to obtain abortions, writes Garcia, senior counsel for the National Women's Law Center. She notes that these restrictions "impose unnecessary monetary costs" that "are particularly devastating to low-income and poor women"; "impose emotional and psychological costs because they are profoundly disrespectful to the women who have made the personal medical decision that having an abortion is best for themselves and their families"; and "make it impossible for providers to give their patients the best care." Garcia adds, "Unfortunately, anti-abortion politicians in the states show no sign of letting up" (Garcia, "ACS Blog," American Constitution Society, 1/30).

ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Reproductive Justice Matters," Monica Raye Simpson, Huffington Post blogs: Reproductive justice is "the human right to not have children, to have children, to parent the children one has in healthy environments and the human right to bodily autonomy and to express one's sexuality freely," writes Simpson, executive director of SisterSong. She adds that the concept of reproductive justice "insists that we see abortion and reproductive health in the larger context of the overall health and wellness of women, our families and our communities." Further, she links the themes of reproductive justice to the Black Lives Matter movement, noting that reproductive justice is a "term created by black women in 1994 to bridge the gap between reproductive rights and other social justice." Specifically, she notes that "reproductive health and rights" cannot be separated from "the fight for Black liberation," adding that "our future depends on all of us bringing our full selves to the fight for freedom" and that "Reproductive Justice is the framework that will carry us there" (Simpson, Huffington Post blogs, 2/1).

What others are saying about the abortion-rights movement:

~ "Roe Anniversary: A Look at History To Understand Our Present," Jamille Fields, Law Students for Reproductive Justice's "Repo Repro."

CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Lawyers for Fetuses? Yes, It's Absurd, But It's Worse Than You Realize," Sara Ainsworth, RH Reality Check: Ainsworth writes about how laws giving legal rights to fetuses, such as a newly enacted law in Alabama (HB 494), "have been used for decades in state and judicial efforts to strip pregnant women of their civil and human rights." For example, she notes that several women in Wisconsin have been put on trial under a state law that (Act 292) assigns a lawyer as a guardian ad litem to defend a fetus or embryo "from 'the time of fertilization' when anyone alleges that a pregnant woman has used any amount of alcohol or a controlled substance," while the pregnant woman herself "has no right to a lawyer until very late in these proceedings, long after she's been detained." Further, she notes that "[s]ince at least the 1980s, courts around the country have been appointing lawyers to represent fetuses -- if not under statutes like Alabama's and Wisconsin's, then through judicial action," such as in cases in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. (Ainsworth, RH Reality Check, 1/30).

CONTRACEPTION: "The History of the Pill, and the Man Who Co-Created it," Elaine Tyler May, Ms. Magazine blog: Tyler May revisits her 2010 Ms. Magazine piece describing the origin of the birth control pill to commemorate Carl Djerassi, "the doctor who synthesized a key hormone in the birth control pill" and died on Friday. In the article, Tyler May writes about how, more than 50 years ago, "[t]wo feminists, birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger and longtime women's rights activist Katharine McCormick, teamed up to realize their dream of a contraceptive that would be completely controlled by women" even as pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. government "shunned the project." According to Tyler May, the timing of the pill's FDA approval "could not have been better," as it became accessible just as "[t]he feminist movement gained momentum" and allowed women to "take full advantage of new opportunities for education, careers and participation in public life." She writes that feminism made the pill revolutionary, noting, "Thanks to feminism, the Pill enabled women not only to control their fertility but to change their lives" (Tyler May, Ms. Magazine blog, 2/2).


Study: Severe Maternal Depression Often Begins During Pregnancy, Not Postpartum

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:25

Women with severe maternal depression often begin to develop symptoms during pregnancy, not in the postpartum period, as is commonly thought, according to a new study, the New York Times' "Well" reports.

Study: Severe Maternal Depression Often Begins During Pregnancy, Not Postpartum

February 4, 2015 — Women with severe maternal depression often begin to develop symptoms during pregnancy, not in the postpartum period, as is commonly thought, according to a new study, the New York Times' "Well" reports.

The study, published in Lancet Psychiatry, involved more than 8,200 women from 19 centers in seven countries. It is the largest to date on postpartum depressive symptoms, according to Leah Rubin, a co-author of a commentary on the study and an assistant professor in the Women's Mental Health Research Program at the University of Illinois.

All of the women in the study were mothers with depressive symptoms. They were classified into three categories by level of severity: mild or clinically insignificant depression; moderate depression; and severe depression, such as suicidal thoughts, panic and frequent crying.

Key Findings

The researchers found that two-thirds of women who experienced the severest symptoms reported that the onset occurred during pregnancy, while symptoms in women with moderate depression typically began postpartum.

Further, the severely depressed women were more likely than the moderately depressed group to experience complications during delivery, whereas the moderately depressed group was more likely to have problems during pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and hypertension.

Potential Explanations

The findings could mean that different biological factors influence women who experience depression during pregnancy than those who develop it after birth, which is believed to be connected to falling hormone levels after delivery.

In addition, Samantha Meltzer-Brody, the study's corresponding author and director of the perinatal psychiatry program at the University of North Carolina, said she is interested in whether immune system issues might play a role, given that 60% of the moderately depressed women reported conditions such as diabetes.

Building off of the study, Meltzer-Brody and colleagues will collect DNA from thousands of women through an online registry, which could eventually help "determine who's at risk," she said (Belluck, "Well," New York Times, 2/2).


'Heartbeat Bills' Divide Abortion-Rights Opponents

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:23

Opponents of abortion rights are divided over whether to pursue state bills that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, Mother Jones reports.

'Heartbeat Bills' Divide Abortion-Rights Opponents

February 2, 2015 — Opponents of abortion rights are divided over whether to pursue state bills that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, Mother Jones reports.

Such measures would prohibit abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy, which is before many women learn that they are pregnant, according to Mother Jones. The bills are intended to challenge the viability standard set by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (Redden, Mother Jones, 2/2). Fetal viability is considered to be about 24 weeks (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/14).

National Right to Life Comm. Resists Bills

The National Right to Life Committee and its state affiliates oppose such "heartbeat bills," and NRLC has been working to defeat them in several states. NRLC's opposition to the approach stems from concern that court challenges to such measures would not produce the desired outcome for abortion-rights opponents.

NRLC chief counsel James Bopp said, "The Supreme Court, as it is constituted right now, may not be ready to overturn Roe." He added that litigation over such abortion bans could result in a high court decision that affirms abortion rights and "would jeopardize all current laws [restricting] abortions."

While states have passed many abortion restrictions in recent years, heartbeat bills have stalled in Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas and Wyoming, in many cases because of NRLC's opposition, according to Mother Jones.

Bopp said, "It is apparent to the vast majority of" abortion-rights opponents that pursuing such bans "is not worth their time, money and effort, and is a pointless and futile strategy. And it doesn't make sense to advance futile strategy."

However, early abortion bans have enacted but not yet enforced in Arkansas (Act 301) and North Dakota (HB 1456) over the objections of NRLC (Mother Jones, 2/2). The Arkansas measure bans abortions at 12 weeks of pregnancy, while the North Dakota law prohibits an abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/14). Both bans have been blocked by federal judges. The states appealed the decisions to a federal appeals court, which heard arguments in the cases last month.

Meanwhile, Kansas Rep. Steve Brunk (R) has introduced a heartbeat bill in his state. Kansans for Life has blocked the measure in the past, according to Mother Jones. However, Mark Gietzen, who leads Kansas Coalition for Life, which supports the measure, said he "can almost guarantee passage of a heartbeat bill in the 2015-2016 session." He added that the group has heard "more favorable talk from the legislature than we've ever had before" (Mother Jones, 2/2).


Survey Shows Increase in Violence Against Abortion Providers, Clinics

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 19:23

Abortion providers are experiencing an increase in threats and intimidation from abortion-rights opponents, according to a Feminist Majority Foundation survey, Medical Daily reports.

Survey Shows Increase in Violence Against Abortion Providers, Clinics

January 30, 2015 — Abortion providers are experiencing an increase in threats and intimidation from abortion-rights opponents, according to a Feminist Majority Foundation survey, Medical Daily reports.

The survey marks the group's first comprehensive look at the issue nationwide since 2010.

Key Findings

Overall, the survey found that antiabortion-rights-related violence affects 19.7% of abortion clinics in the U.S.

The survey found that abortion providers are facing more targeted harassment, such as "wanted-style" posters and pamphlets that identify clinics' staff members and disclose their personal data and pictures (Castillo, Medical Daily, 1/28). The proportion of clinics that faced these types of threats increased from 26.6% in 2010 to 51.9% in 2014 (FMF survey, January 2015).

The survey also showed increases in other types of extreme antiabortion-rights threats, including break-ins, vandalism and severe violence. According to the report, "[A]nti-abortion extremists strategically target a vulnerable minority of clinics, aiming to force them to close their doors before moving on to the next set of targets."

In addition, the researchers found that women visiting abortion clinics not only face shaming and other harassment, but that restricted access to abortion clinics can be associated with intimate partner violence, maternal death and other negative effects on women's health (Medical Daily, 1/28).


Ala. Abortion Clinics Targeted Through Mail by Anti-Choice Group

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 17:49

An antiabortion-rights group last week sent Alabama abortion clinics packages containing plastic handcuffs and warnings alleging that the providers could be arrested as part of a campaign against the procedure, the Montgomery Advertiser/USA Today reports.

Ala. Abortion Clinics Targeted Through Mail by Anti-Choice Group

February 5, 2015 — An antiabortion-rights group last week sent Alabama abortion clinics packages containing plastic handcuffs and warnings alleging that the providers could be arrested as part of a campaign against the procedure, the Montgomery Advertiser/USA Today reports.

Mia Raven, director of legislative affairs for Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates, called the packages "a stunt," adding that the group behind it "like[s] to do things like this for intimidation tactics and to scare clinic workers and escorts."

Package Details

The Pro-Life Action League sent more than 500 packages to abortion providers throughout the country on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

The package in Alabama included handcuffs and a picture of an Oklahoma physician, Naresh Patel. According to Montgomery Advertiser/USA Today, Patel was arrested last year for allegedly prescribing and billing women for medication abortion drugs, even though the women were not pregnant. The package also included a note stating, "Could you be next? If you want to get out of the abortion business, give me a call," along with a phone number for PLAL's director, Eric Scheidler.

Scheidler on Monday said the packages were not intended to intimidate abortion providers, but to make them "think about the company [they] keep in the abortion business." He said he did not have evidence that the Alabama clinics engaged in practices similar to those allegedly carried out by Patel (Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser/USA Today, 2/3).

Clinics Threats Common

According to a recent Feminist Majority Foundation survey, abortion providers are experiencing an increase in threats and intimidation from abortion-rights opponents. Overall, the survey found that antiabortion-rights-related violence affects 19.7% of abortion clinics in the U.S. According to the report, "[A]nti-abortion extremists strategically target a vulnerable minority of clinics, aiming to force them to close their doors before moving on to the next set of targets" (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/30).