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 56 min ago

Kan. Gov. Says He Would Sign Latest Antiabortion-Rights Bill

6 hours 45 min ago

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) last week said he would sign pending legislation that would prohibit physicians from performing certain abortion procedures, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Kan. Gov. Says He Would Sign Latest Antiabortion-Rights Bill

January 26, 2015 — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) last week said he would sign pending legislation that would prohibit physicians from performing certain abortion procedures, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Hanna, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/22).

The bill, which was drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, would ban a method of abortion called dilation and extraction. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Human Services, the method accounted for 578 of the roughly 7,500 abortions performed in the state in 2013 (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/16).

Comments

Brownback made the comments during remarks he gave at a Statehouse rally sponsored by Kansans for Life to coincide with the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. Specifically, he said that the measure "should pass" and that he would "sign it" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/22).

Further, Brownback touted Kansas as "[t]he most pro-life state in America." He thanked state House and Senate lawmakers for working to pass 13 antiabortion-rights bills over the past four years, all of which he signed.

Planned Parenthood Comments

Separately, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri President and CEO Laura McQuade said Kansas and federal lawmakers should stop impeding on individuals' access to reproductive health services and trying to undermine the Roe decision.

She said that since Roe, "lawmakers across the country and especially in Kansas and Missouri have been working tirelessly to pass laws that eliminate access to safe and legal abortion, and deny women their constitutional rights to make their own private medical decisions." She added that public officials supporting abortion restrictions are "on the wrong side of medical science, the wrong side of public opinion and the wrong side of history" (Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, 1/22).


Minn. Abortion-Rights Opponents Seek Legislative Support; Gov. Against New Restrictions

6 hours 46 min ago

Abortion-rights opponents in Minnesota hope that Republican control of the state House could help advance their goals this year, although Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and the Democratic-controlled state Senate are unlikely to be receptive, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Minn. Abortion-Rights Opponents Seek Legislative Support; Gov. Against New Restrictions

January 26, 2015 — Abortion-rights opponents in Minnesota hope that Republican control of the state House could help advance their goals this year, although Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and the Democratic-controlled state Senate are unlikely to be receptive, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Legislative Agenda

Antiabortion-rights groups and about 50 Republican state lawmakers gathered at the state Capitol last Thursday to mark the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. They said restricting state funding for abortion coverage is among their legislative priorities (Farhang, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22). Minnesota offers a state-subsidized health plan for low-income women, which includes some abortion coverage, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, which organized the march, also will push for a bill that would create new licensing and inspection requirements for abortion clinics, according to MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach (Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio News, 1/22). Dayton vetoed a similar bill in 2012.

New Restrictions Face Long Odds

Abortion-rights opponents are still looking for legislators to draft their bills (Minnesota Public Radio News, 1/22). Further, Dayton has said he does not plan on approving any new abortion restrictions.

State Rep. Erin Murphy (D) said enacting any further restrictions on abortions in Minnesota would limit women's ability to access the procedure. Murphy said that while any new bills might make it through the state House, they likely will fail with the governor (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22).


States Likely To Consider 20-Week Abortion Bans, Despite Issues With Federal Bill

6 hours 47 min ago

Bills that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy are likely to advance in state legislatures this year, despite the difficulties conservatives faced with similar federal-level legislation last week, the Washington Post's "GovBeat" reports.

States Likely To Consider 20-Week Abortion Bans, Despite Issues With Federal Bill

January 26, 2015 — Bills that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy are likely to advance in state legislatures this year, despite the difficulties conservatives faced with similar federal-level legislation last week, the Washington Post's "GovBeat" reports.

According to "GovBeat," antiabortion-rights groups have indicated that 20-week abortion ban measures are their "top priority" as state legislatures start their 2015 sessions. Americans United for Life general counsel Ovide Lamontagne said such legislation "is an important part of our premier legislative project."

"GovBeat" reports that 20-week legislation is already being considered in South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, abortion-rights advocates said that the controversy that surrounded the 20-week legislation at the federal level shows what could happen if states take up similar measures. Jessica McIntosh, a spokesperson for EMILY's List, said, "The total debacle this [past] week showed what happens when the GOP makes banning abortion their top priority: Women revolt" (Wilson, "GovBeat," Washington Post, 1/23).


States Likely To Consider 20-Week Abortion Bans, Despite Issues With Federal Bill

8 hours 41 min ago

Bills that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy are likely to advance in state legislatures this year, despite the difficulties conservatives faced with similar federal-level legislation last week, the Washington Post's "GovBeat" reports.

States Likely To Consider 20-Week Abortion Bans, Despite Issues With Federal Bill

January 26, 2015 — Bills that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy are likely to advance in state legislatures this year, despite the difficulties conservatives faced with similar federal-level legislation last week, the Washington Post's "GovBeat" reports.

According to "GovBeat," antiabortion-rights groups have indicated that 20-week abortion ban measures are their "top priority" as state legislatures start their 2015 sessions. Americans United for Life general counsel Ovide Lamontagne said such legislation "is an important part of our premier legislative project."

"GovBeat" reports that 20-week legislation is already being considered in South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, abortion-rights advocates said that the controversy that surrounded the 20-week legislation at the federal level shows what could happen if states take up similar measures. Jessica McIntosh, a spokesperson for EMILY's List, said, "The total debacle this [past] week showed what happens when the GOP makes banning abortion their top priority: Women revolt" (Wilson, "GovBeat," Washington Post, 1/23).


House Democrats Urge End To Budget Riders That Restrict Abortion

8 hours 43 min ago

Democrats on the House Budget and Appropriations committees last week urged Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan to submit a fiscal year 2016 budget proposal without riders that restrict abortion funding, Politico's "Pulse" reports.

House Democrats Urge End To Budget Riders That Restrict Abortion

January 26, 2015 — Democrats on the House Budget and Appropriations committees last week urged Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan to submit a fiscal year 2016 budget proposal without riders that restrict abortion funding, Politico's "Pulse" reports.

In a letter spearheaded by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the lawmakers called for a budget plan that eliminates the Hyde Amendment and similar restrictions (Wheaton, "Pulse," Politico, 1/26). The amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion in cases other than rape, incest and life endangerment (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/26/14).

DeLauro and the 19 other lawmakers who signed the letter noted their "commit[ment] to advancing reproductive health, rights and justice" and acknowledged "the challenges [they] face going forward" in Congress.

However, "[n]ow is the time to be bold," they wrote, adding, "These budget riders have a far-reaching impact on women enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare, federal employees and their dependents, Peace Corps Volunteers, Native American women, women in federal prisons, women in immigration detention centers and residents of the District of Columbia."

For example, they cited a Guttmacher Institute paper that found that about "one in four Medicaid-eligible women who would have had an abortion if funds were available must carry the pregnancy to term because she is unable to afford the cost of that care." This inability to access care "can have long term, devastating effects on a woman and her family's economic future," they wrote (DeLauro et al., letter, 1/22).


Minn. Abortion-Rights Opponents Seek Legislative Support; Gov. Against New Restrictions

8 hours 53 min ago

Abortion-rights opponents in Minnesota hope that Republican control of the state House could help advance their goals this year, although Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and the Democratic-controlled state Senate are unlikely to be receptive, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Minn. Abortion-Rights Opponents Seek Legislative Support; Gov. Against New Restrictions

January 26, 2015 — Abortion-rights opponents in Minnesota hope that Republican control of the state House could help advance their goals this year, although Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and the Democratic-controlled state Senate are unlikely to be receptive, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Legislative Agenda

Antiabortion-rights groups and about 50 Republican state lawmakers gathered at the state Capitol last Thursday to mark the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. They said restricting state funding for abortion coverage is among their legislative priorities (Farhang, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22). Minnesota offers a state-subsidized health plan for low-income women, which includes some abortion coverage, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, which organized the march, also will push for a bill that would create new licensing and inspection requirements for abortion clinics, according to MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach (Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio News, 1/22). Dayton vetoed a similar bill in 2012.

New Restrictions Face Long Odds

Abortion-rights opponents are still looking for legislators to draft their bills (Minnesota Public Radio News, 1/22). Further, Dayton has said he does not plan on approving any new abortion restrictions.

State Rep. Erin Murphy (D) said enacting any further restrictions on abortions in Minnesota would limit women's ability to access the procedure. Murphy said that while any new bills might make it through the state House, they likely will fail with the governor (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22).


House Bill Would Mandate Ultrasounds Before Abortions Nationwide

9 hours 32 min ago

A bill (HR 492) introduced in the House on Thursday would require a woman seeking an abortion to first undergo an ultrasound, The Hill reports.

House Bill Would Mandate Ultrasounds Before Abortions Nationwide

January 26, 2015 — A bill (HR 492) introduced in the House on Thursday would require a woman seeking an abortion to first undergo an ultrasound, The Hill reports (Ferris, The Hill, 1/23).

Specifically, the bill states that women have to "receive an ultrasound and the opportunity to review the ultrasound before giving informed consent to receive an abortion."

Almost half of states have passed similar legislation, but some of the measures have produced notable "political backlash," according to the Huffington Post.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) introduced HR 492 shortly after House Republicans canceled a vote on another bill (HR 36) that would have banned abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, after some members of their party refused to support the measure (Bassett, Huffington Post, 1/23).Instead, the House approved a bill that would restrict insurance coverage of abortion. House leaders said they would take up the 20-week bill again later. President Obama has said he would veto both measures if they were to reach his desk (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/23).


Kan. Gov. Says He Would Sign Latest Antiabortion-Rights Bill

9 hours 35 min ago

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) last week said he would sign pending legislation that would prohibit physicians from performing certain abortion procedures, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

Kan. Gov. Says He Would Sign Latest Antiabortion-Rights Bill

January 26, 2015 — Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) last week said he would sign pending legislation that would prohibit physicians from performing certain abortion procedures, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Hanna, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/22).

The bill, which was drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, would ban a method of abortion called dilation and extraction. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Human Services, the method accounted for 578 of the roughly 7,500 abortions performed in the state in 2013 (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/16).

Comments

Brownback made the comments during remarks he gave at a Statehouse rally sponsored by Kansans for Life to coincide with the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. Specifically, he said that the measure "should pass" and that he would "sign it" (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/22).

Further, Brownback touted Kansas as "[t]he most pro-life state in America." He thanked state House and Senate lawmakers for working to pass 13 antiabortion-rights bills over the past four years, all of which he signed.

Planned Parenthood Comments

Separately, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri President and CEO Laura McQuade said Kansas and federal lawmakers should stop impeding on individuals' access to reproductive health services and trying to undermine the Roe decision.

She said that since Roe, "lawmakers across the country and especially in Kansas and Missouri have been working tirelessly to pass laws that eliminate access to safe and legal abortion, and deny women their constitutional rights to make their own private medical decisions." She added that public officials supporting abortion restrictions are "on the wrong side of medical science, the wrong side of public opinion and the wrong side of history" (Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, 1/22).


Report: Majority of Women Cannot Access Abortion Coverage in ACA Marketplaces

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 18:49

About 60% of U.S. women who qualify for tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) are unable to access a plan that covers abortion through the law's marketplaces, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released on Wednesday, The Hill reports.

Report: Majority of Women Cannot Access Abortion Coverage in ACA Marketplaces

January 23, 2015 — About 60% of U.S. women who qualify for tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) are unable to access a plan that covers abortion through the law's marketplaces, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released on Wednesday, The Hill reports.

Key Findings

The researchers found that in 31 states, women cannot obtain abortion coverage through marketplace plans either because their state has prohibited such plans from including it or because no insurers in their area are offering it.

According to the analysis, some states permit marketplace plans to include abortion coverage only in limited circumstances, such as when a woman's life is in danger or instances of rape or incest, while some do not permit the coverage in any circumstances.

The researchers said that rules requiring the separation of funds for abortion coverage from funds for other coverage could be discouraging insurers from offering abortion coverage.

They cited West Virginia as an example, noting that in the state, "the same insurance carrier that does not offer abortion coverage for individual policies is ... including abortion coverage in the group policies sold to small firms through the small group marketplace plans, where the accounting rules and reporting requirements do not apply" (Viebeck, The Hill, 1/21).


Wyo. Bill Would Require Ultrasound, Fetal Heartbeat Information Before Abortion

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 18:28

A bill that would require abortion providers in Wyoming to tell women they have the option to view an ultrasound of the fetus and hear its heartbeat before an abortion was introduced in the state House on Tuesday, the AP/Washington Times reports.

Wyo. Bill Would Require Ultrasound, Fetal Heartbeat Information Before Abortion

January 23, 2015 — A bill that would require abortion providers in Wyoming to tell women they have the option to view an ultrasound of the fetus and hear its heartbeat before an abortion was introduced in the state House on Tuesday, the AP/Washington Times reports.

Specifically, the bill would require abortion providers to obtain signed waivers from women seeking abortions that acknowledge that they have been told of the opportunities. The requirement would not apply to abortions being performed to save a woman's life or to procedures after a miscarriage.

According to the AP/Times, the Wyoming Legislature has failed to pass similar measures in the past (AP/Washington Times, 1/21).


Blogs Comment on 'Abortion Bill Bait-and-Switch,' Roe v. Wade Anniversary, More

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 18:06

Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the New York Times, Huffington Post and more.

Blogs Comment on 'Abortion Bill Bait-and-Switch,' Roe v. Wade Anniversary, More

January 23, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the New York Times, Huffington Post and more.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Abortion Bill Bait-and-Switch," Dorothy Samuels, New York Times' "Taking Note": After House Republicans changed their plans to "pus[h] through a brazenly unconstitutional measure [HR 36] to prohibit almost all abortions 20 weeks after fertilization" on Thursday, they "could have decided then and there to use the floor time more constructively," Samuels writes. However, instead of "passing a bill that actually supports women and families, or legislation focused on creating new jobs, or just about anything else," they chose to select a bill (HR 7) that "would erect new barriers to women who might seek an abortion" and "effectively bar millions of Americans from using their own money to buy health plans that include abortion services," Samuels notes. She writes that "like the proposed 20-week ban, it contains a highly limited exception for life-endangering situations, and none to protect a woman's health." She also flags that "[a] core provision would deny tax credits to small businesses that offer health plans including abortion coverage, aggressively discouraging businesses from offering such plans and departing from established tax principles by treating tax benefits as the equivalent of public spending for abortions" (Samuels, "Taking Note," New York Times, 1/22).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Republicans Face Showdown With Religious Right Over Dropped Abortion Bill," Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches.

~ "Mayhem in the House of Representatives," Leila Abolfazli, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."

ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: "8 Women on Why Roe v. Wade Has Mattered So Much to Them," Catherine Pearson, Huffington Post blogs: In observance of Thursday's "42nd anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that affirmed women's right to obtain a legal abortion," Pearson highlights the stories of eight women who describe the impact the ruling has had on their lives. Debra Hauser -- executive director and president of Advocates for Youth, a sexual health advocacy group -- noted that "[t]elling these stories is a personal action that becomes quite political." The women touch on how the choice to have an abortion is solely a woman's, access to abortion continues to be a problem for many women, some women are "not ready for children at all" and the right to abortion enables women to control their futures (Pearson, Huffington Post blogs, 1/22).

What others are saying about the Roe anniversary:

~ "To Abortion Clinic Operators and Patients, the Erosion of 'Roe' is a Stark Reality," Shelley Abrams, RH Reality Check.

RELIGION: "The Pope Tells Catholics Not To Breed 'Like Rabbits' but Refuses To Endorse Contraception," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": Last weekend, "Pope Francis criticized the tradition -- usually encouraged by the Vatican -- of Catholic couples having large broods." She explains that the pope said, "'Some think that ... in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits.'" However, Marcotte continues, "[d]on't get too excited. The pope did not just endorse contraception." Instead, he "argued that there are ways to avoid both contraception and excessive childbearing." Marcotte notes that the pope "didn't elaborate," likely "because there are not, in fact, 'many, many' ways that the Catholic Church allows women to prevent pregnancy" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 1/20).

GLOBAL: "#HelmsHurts: President Obama Must Act Now," Serra Sippel, Huffington Post blogs: President Obama this year "will have to fend off efforts to undermine Roe and protect women's rights," but "there is one area where the President does not need to rely on Congress to act: helping women and girls who survive rape in conflict" by clarifying the 1973 Helms Amendment, Sippel writes. She explains that while "[u]ltimately, we want to see the elimination of this wrong-headed provision, which bans U.S. funding for abortion overseas as a 'method of family planning' but does not prevent U.S. support in the cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment," Obama "can take executive action now and make it clear that it is the policy of the U.S. government to support access to health care that includes abortion for women and girls globally who survive rape or incest, or whose lives are endangered by a pregnancy" (Sippel, Huffington Post blogs, 1/21).


Report: Majority of Women Cannot Access Abortion Coverage in ACA Marketplaces

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 18:06

About 60% of U.S. women who qualify for tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) are unable to access a plan that covers abortion through the law's marketplaces, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released on Wednesday, The Hill reports.

Report: Majority of Women Cannot Access Abortion Coverage in ACA Marketplaces

January 23, 2015 — About 60% of U.S. women who qualify for tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) are unable to access a plan that covers abortion through the law's marketplaces, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released on Wednesday, The Hill reports.

Key Findings

The researchers found that in 31 states, women cannot obtain abortion coverage through marketplace plans either because their state has prohibited such plans from including it or because no insurers in their area are offering it.

According to the analysis, some states permit marketplace plans to include abortion coverage only in limited circumstances, such as when a woman's life is in danger or instances of rape or incest, while some do not permit the coverage in any circumstances.

The researchers said that rules requiring the separation of funds for abortion coverage from funds for other coverage could be discouraging insurers from offering abortion coverage.

They cited West Virginia as an example, noting that in the state, "the same insurance carrier that does not offer abortion coverage for individual policies is ... including abortion coverage in the group policies sold to small firms through the small group marketplace plans, where the accounting rules and reporting requirements do not apply" (Viebeck, The Hill, 1/21).


Video Round Up: How Roe Was Covered in 1973, 'Daily Show' Looks at 'Lawyers for Fetuses' Law, More

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 17:17

In today's clips, we look back at how the media covered the Supreme Court's historic Roe v. Wade decision, 42 years ago this week. Elsewhere, Jessica Williams of "The Daily Show" takes a satirical look at a seriously troubling Alabama law that authorizes judges to appoint lawyers for fetuses. We also hear from participants in the Women's March on Nashville, including footage from the march.

Video Round Up: How Roe Was Covered in 1973, 'Daily Show' Looks at 'Lawyers for Fetuses' Law, More

January 23, 2015 — In today's clips, we look back at how the media covered the Supreme Court's historic Roe v. Wade decision, 42 years ago this week. Elsewhere, Jessica Williams of "The Daily Show" takes a satirical look at a seriously troubling Alabama law that authorizes judges to appoint lawyers for fetuses. We also hear from participants in the Women's March on Nashville, including footage from the march.



The Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22, 1973, came the same day as the death of former President Lyndon Johnson. In this clip from the NBC News archives, see how the historic decision to strike down state laws banning abortion was reported at the time. As NBC anchor Garrick Utley begins to reports on the ruling, he is interrupted by a bulletin breaking the news on LBJ. The clip goes on to feature reporter Betty Rollin's story on Roe, including comments from Alan Guttmacher of Planned Parenthood, who says, "January 22, 1973, will stand out as one of the great days for freedom and free choice" ("Nightly News," NBC News, 1/23/12).




Jessica Williams of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" takes a look at an Alabama law (HB 494) that authorizes judges to appoint lawyers for fetuses in judicial bypass proceedings. In a satirical interview with an actual state lawyer, she asks, "You get a call from a fetus seeking legal representation, then what happens?" Meanwhile, Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, talks to Williams about why her group has filed suit against the law and details how it is "particularly insulting to women" (Williams, "The Daily Show," Comedy Central, 1/15).




Over a slide show of video clips and images from the Women's March on Nashville, a reporter at the Knoxville News Sentinel talks to former Tennessee Rep. Gloria Johnson (D) about the rally in support of access to women's health services and opposed to proposed abortion restrictions. The march took place as the Tennessee Legislature convened for its 2015 session (Knoxville News Sentinel, 1/13). In a separate clip, Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health's Corinne Rovetti urges state lawmakers to become more educated on abortion-rights issues, saying to the rally attendees, "Abortion is safe, ... we are licensed and we are highly regulated already," adding, "We don't need ... redundant, unnecessary [and] ineffective [antiabortion-rights] laws. We are watching" (Rovetti, Healthy and Free Tennessee, 1/14).

Conservatives Push Forward on 20-Week Abortion Ban, Despite Controversy

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 17:04

Republican congressional leaders still plan to hold a vote this session on a 20-week abortion ban measure (HR 36), with some antiabortion-rights lawmakers saying the bill's language might be changed to increase its chances of passage, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Conservatives Push Forward on 20-Week Abortion Ban, Despite Controversy

January 23, 2015 — Republican congressional leaders still plan to hold a vote this session on a 20-week abortion ban measure (HR 36), with some antiabortion-rights lawmakers saying the bill's language might be changed to increase its chances of passage, the Los Angeles Times reports (Mascaro, Los Angeles Times, 1/22).

House leaders originally planned to vote on the bill on Jan. 22 -- the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision -- but changed course after some conservative lawmakers raised concern about its restrictions on rape survivors seeking abortions and refused to support it.

Instead, the House voted 242-179 to pass a bill (HR 7) that would restrict insurance coverage of abortion. The measure is not expected to pass the Senate, and President Obama has issued a veto threat (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/22). Obama also has said he would veto a 20-week abortion ban (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/21).

Details of Disagreement

HR 36 would allow abortions after 20 weeks only in certain cases of rape and incest, and endangerment to a woman's life. The bill would mandate that a rape survivor formally report the rape to police in order to obtain an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

However, several GOP lawmakers raised concern beginning last week that the bill could hurt Republicans politically among young people and distract from the party's message on the economy. Some conservative lawmakers, including Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), have specifically said the bill's requirements for an exemption to the mandate for rape survivors could dissuade women from reporting rape (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/22).

House: Language Might Change

Bill sponsor Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said on Thursday he "has every intention of working to get [HR 36] to pass." He characterized the intent of the rape reporting requirement as a way of enabling prosecution of perpetrators to "put them in jail."

March for Life Education and Defense Fund President Jeanne Monahan said that House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had assured her the bill would get a vote and that her group "plan[s] on meeting with folks late next week" to discuss next steps. She added, "I'm cautious to say we would sign on to the bill without seeing the [new] language, but we are open to any discussion" about how to increase its chances of passage.

Similarly, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said, "Both the House Leadership and Senator [Lindsey] Graham [R-S.C.]" -- the Senate sponsor -- "have assured us they are not backing down." She said her group has not discussed language changes but is open to the idea (Zanona, CQ Roll Call, 1/22).

However, some other opponents of abortion rights expressed disappointment that the bill's language might change, according to Politico (Wheaton, Politico, 1/22).

Graham: Language Must Change, Pro-Choice Bill Will Also Get Vote

Meanwhile, on the Senate side, Graham said that the bill should not move forward in either chamber if the reporting requirement for rape survivors is not removed (Lesniewski, "#WGDB," Roll Call, 1/22).

Graham said he had not been aware that such language was in the bill (Wheaton, Politico, 1/22). He said, "Somebody in the House put [that] provision in there ... I've been, you know, in criminal law all my life, and the vast majority of women who are raped don't report it, so we're not going to go down that road." He continued, "We're going to fix it."

He also said he plans to hold a vote on the Women's Health Protection Act, saying he is "looking forward to debate" on both that bill and antiabortion-rights legislation this year ("#WGDB," Roll Call, 1/22).

Political Repercussions

Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of abortion rights reflected on whether the controversy over the rape reporting provision would have a political effect on the GOP (Wheaton, Politico, 1/22).

Some stakeholders said that the move to pull the 20-week measure from the floor showed that more centrist GOP House lawmakers are gaining clout within the party (Sherman/Bresnahan, Politico, 1/22).

However, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said on Thursday, "I don't think it's a shift within the GOP. I think it's an awakening for some of them to the actual political reality in this party, which is that voters do not want this to be a focus of the new Congress." She added that the main takeaway is that "this is not what voters want [the GOP] to focus on."

Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said, "It's encouraging that some politicians are starting to recognize that it is a political vulnerability to attack women's access to abortion and other health care. It would be better if they recognized the real impact that these attacks have on women's lives" (Graves, National Journal, 1/22).

Obama 'Deeply Committed To Protecting' Abortion Rights, Critical of HR 7

In related news, President Obama on Thursday, marking the anniversary of the Roe decision, affirmed that he is "deeply committed to protecting this core constitutional right" of abortion.

He said that Roe is "a decision that protects a woman's freedom to make her own choices about her body and her health, and reaffirms a fundamental American value: that government should not intrude in our most private and personal family matters."

Obama added that "efforts like H.R. 7 ... would intrude on women's reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restrict the private insurance choices that consumers have today. The federal government should not be injecting itself into decisions best made between women, their families, and their doctors."

Obama also stressed his commitment to decreasing the number of unplanned pregnancies, supporting child and maternal health, promoting adoption, and reducing the need for abortion (Boyer, Washington Times, 1/22).


Wyo. Bill Would Require Ultrasound, Fetal Heartbeat Information Before Abortion

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 15:51

A bill that would require abortion providers in Wyoming to tell women they have the option to view an ultrasound of the fetus and hear its heartbeat before an abortion was introduced in the state House on Tuesday, the AP/Washington Times reports.

Wyo. Bill Would Require Ultrasound, Fetal Heartbeat Information Before Abortion

January 23, 2015 — A bill that would require abortion providers in Wyoming to tell women they have the option to view an ultrasound of the fetus and hear its heartbeat before an abortion was introduced in the state House on Tuesday, the AP/Washington Times reports.

Specifically, the bill would require abortion providers to obtain signed waivers from women seeking abortions that acknowledge that they have been told of the opportunities. The requirement would not apply to abortions being performed to save a woman's life or to procedures after a miscarriage.

According to the AP/Times, the Wyoming Legislature has failed to pass similar measures in the past (AP/Washington Times, 1/21).


Lawmakers Reintroduce Women's Health Protection Act

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 00:29

Coinciding with this week's anniversary of Roe v. Wade, congressional Democrats on Wednesday reintroduced a measure designed to protect women's access to health care and limit abortion restrictions.

Lawmakers Reintroduce Women's Health Protection Act

January 22, 2015 — Coinciding with this week's anniversary of Roe v. Wade, congressional Democrats on Wednesday reintroduced a measure designed to protect women's access to health care and limit abortion restrictions, The Hill reports (Viebeck, The Hill, 1/21).

Congressional Democrats also introduced the Women's Health Protection Act last session (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/21). However, the new bill is unlikely to get a hearing in the Senate this year because Republicans control the chamber, The Hill reports.

Bill Details

The bill would prohibit state and federal lawmakers from enacting certain restrictions on abortion rights, such as mandatory ultrasounds before abortions, hospital admitting privileges requirements for abortion providers, limits on medication abortion and bans on abortion prior to viability, according to The Hill (Viebeck, The Hill, 1/21).

According Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a lead sponsor of the bill, along with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the measure has 33 co-sponsors in the Senate and at least 60 in the House.

Comments

Blumenthal during a Wednesday conference call cited several antiabortion-rights bills proposed this year in the House and Senate. "The threat to women's healthcare and reproductive rights is urgent, clear and present," he said, adding, "The threats are real, reprehensive and growing."

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) during the briefing added that the new measure "will finally put [abortion-rights supporters] on the offensive" (Ferris, The Hill, 1/21).

Separately, Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup in a statement said the act "will ensure that every woman in America can exercise her constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion care without interference from the devious tactics of politicians bent on substituting their judgment for hers" (Viebeck, The Hill, 1/21).

Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said in a statement, "State legislatures shouldn't be in the business of limiting women's reproductive rights." She added that the new legislation, if enacted, "would allow women to make their own personal health care decisions regardless of where they live, and protect the relationship between a woman and her health care provider" (NPWF statement, 1/21).

Abortion-Rights Groups Mark Roe With Efforts To Destigmatize Procedure

In related news, the Roe anniversary is also drawing attention to abortion-rights supporters' efforts to destigmatize abortion, Kaiser Health News reports.

About one-third of U.S. women will have an abortion in their lifetimes, according to KHN. Abortion-rights supporters say that having women share their experiences with others, if they wish to do so, will shed light on the statistic.

For example, Advocates for Youth, a group working to end abortion stigma, has launched the 1 in 3 Campaign to encourage support for abortion and provide women with a safe space to discuss their experience. According to KHN, the effort has collected about 700 abortion stories, hosted an eight-hour "speak out" and inspired a book and a play based on some of the shared stories.

AFY President Deb Hauser said, "We know from the research that the No. 1 predictor of whether or not you say you're pro-choice and vote pro-choice is if you know someone who's had an abortion."

Lindsay Rodriguez at the National Network of Abortion Funds added, "Probably everybody knows somebody who's had an abortion. They just don't know they know somebody who's had an abortion."

Separately, Steph Herold of the Sea Change Program, a group working to destigmatize reproductive topics, said abortion stigma "permeates every aspect of our culture." She added that hospitals might choose not to offer the service not because they oppose abortion-rights, "but because they're afraid of the backlash or anti-abortion protesters" (Rovner, Kaiser Health News, 1/21).


Lawmakers Reintroduce Women's Health Protection Act

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 00:28

Coinciding with this week's anniversary of Roe v. Wade, congressional Democrats on Wednesday reintroduced a measure designed to protect women's access to health care and limit abortion restrictions.

Lawmakers Reintroduce Women's Health Protection Act

January 22, 2015 — Coinciding with this week's anniversary of Roe v. Wade, congressional Democrats on Wednesday reintroduced a measure designed to protect women's access to health care and limit abortion restrictions, The Hill reports (Viebeck, The Hill, 1/21).

Congressional Democrats also introduced the Women's Health Protection Act last session (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/21). However, the new bill is unlikely to get a hearing in the Senate this year because Republicans control the chamber, The Hill reports.

Bill Details

The bill would prohibit state and federal lawmakers from enacting certain restrictions on abortion rights, such as mandatory ultrasounds and delay periods before an abortion, hospital admitting privileges requirements for abortion providers, limits on medication abortion, and bans on abortion prior to viability, according to The Hill (Viebeck, The Hill, 1/21).

According Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a lead sponsor of the bill, along with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the measure has 33 co-sponsors in the Senate and at least 60 in the House.

Comments

Blumenthal during a Wednesday conference call cited several antiabortion-rights bills proposed this year in the House and Senate. "The threat to women's healthcare and reproductive rights is urgent, clear and present," he said, adding, "The threats are real, reprehensive and growing."

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) during the briefing added that the new measure "will finally put [abortion-rights supporters] on the offensive" (Ferris, The Hill, 1/21).

Separately, Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup in a statement said the act "will ensure that every woman in America can exercise her constitutional right to access safe, legal abortion care without interference from the devious tactics of politicians bent on substituting their judgment for hers" (Viebeck, The Hill, 1/21).

Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said in a statement, "State legislatures shouldn't be in the business of limiting women's reproductive rights." She added that the new legislation, if enacted, "would allow women to make their own personal health care decisions regardless of where they live, and protect the relationship between a woman and her health care provider" (NPWF statement, 1/21).

Abortion-Rights Groups Mark Roe With Efforts To Destigmatize Procedure

In related news, the Roe anniversary is also drawing attention to abortion-rights supporters' efforts to destigmatize abortion, Kaiser Health News reports.

About one-third of U.S. women will have an abortion in their lifetimes, according to KHN. Abortion-rights supporters say that having women share their experiences with others, if they wish to do so, will shed light on the statistic.

For example, Advocates for Youth, a group working to end abortion stigma, has launched the 1 in 3 Campaign to encourage support for abortion and provide women with a safe space to discuss their experience. According to KHN, the effort has collected about 700 abortion stories, hosted an eight-hour "speak out" and inspired a book and a play based on some of the shared stories.

AFY President Deb Hauser said, "We know from the research that the No. 1 predictor of whether or not you say you're pro-choice and vote pro-choice is if you know someone who's had an abortion."

Lindsay Rodriguez at the National Network of Abortion Funds added, "Probably everybody knows somebody who's had an abortion. They just don't know they know somebody who's had an abortion."

Separately, Steph Herold of the Sea Change Program, a group working to destigmatize reproductive topics, said abortion stigma "permeates every aspect of our culture." She added that hospitals might choose not to offer the service not because they oppose abortion-rights, "but because they're afraid of the backlash or anti-abortion protesters" (Rovner, Kaiser Health News, 1/21).


W.Va. Lawmaker Refiles 20-Week Abortion Ban

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 22:22

West Virginia Delegate David Perry (D) on Tuesday reintroduced a measure (HB 2153) that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman is having a medical emergency, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

W.Va. Lawmaker Refiles 20-Week Abortion Ban

January 22, 2015 — West Virginia Delegate David Perry (D) on Tuesday reintroduced a measure (HB 2153) that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman is having a medical emergency, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/20).

Background

Last session, the state Legislature passed a bill (HB 4588) that would have banned abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the pregnancy was not viable. Specifically, the measure would have made it a misdemeanor for a physician to provide an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) vetoed the measure last session, saying that it was likely unconstitutional and would restrict pregnant women's health care. He also said he vetoed the bill because the medical community believes that the measure's legal penalties would have imposed on the patient-doctor relationship (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/31/14).

Latest Measure's Prospects

On Tuesday, Tomblin said he likely would veto the bill if it is identical to the one he vetoed last session. However, the state Legislature could override the governor's veto with a simple majority, according to the AP/Chronicle. Republicans hold a majority (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/20).

Tomblin last year said he is proud of his antiabortion-rights record and would work with the state Legislature in 2015 to enact legislation he feels is constitutional (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/27/14).

According to the AP/Chronicle, the latest measure is similar to an Arizona law (HB 2036) that a federal court ruled unconstitutional. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in the case (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/20).


Video Round Up: How Roe Was Covered in 1973, 'Daily Show' Looks at 'Lawyers for Fetuses' Law, More

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 21:26

In today's clips, we look back at how the media covered the Supreme Court's historic Roe v. Wade decision, 42 years ago this week. Elsewhere, Jessica Williams of "The Daily Show" takes a satirical look at a seriously troubling Alabama law that authorizes judges to appoint lawyers for fetuses. We also hear from participants in the Women's March on Nashville, including footage from the march.

Video Round Up: How Roe Was Covered in 1973, 'Daily Show' Looks at 'Lawyers for Fetuses' Law, More

January 22, 2015 — In today's clips, we look back at how the media covered the Supreme Court's historic Roe v. Wade decision, 42 years ago this week. Elsewhere, Jessica Williams of "The Daily Show" takes a satirical look at a seriously troubling Alabama law that authorizes judges to appoint lawyers for fetuses. We also hear from participants in the Women's March on Nashville, including footage from the march.



The Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22, 1973, came the same day as the death of former President Lyndon Johnson. In this clip from the NBC News archives, see how the historic decision to strike down state laws banning abortion was reported at the time. As NBC anchor Garrick Utley begins to reports on the ruling, he is interrupted by a bulletin breaking the news on LBJ. The clip goes on to feature reporter Betty Rollin's story on Roe, including comments from Alan Guttmacher of Planned Parenthood, who says, "January 22, 1973, will stand out as one of the great days for freedom and free choice" ("Nightly News," NBC News, 1/23/12).




Jessica Williams of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" takes a look at an Alabama law (HB 494) that authorizes judges to appoint lawyers for fetuses in judicial bypass proceedings. In a satirical interview with an actual state lawyer, she asks, "You get a call from a fetus seeking legal representation, then what happens?" Meanwhile, Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, talks to Williams about why her group has filed suit against the law and details how it is "particularly insulting to women" (Williams, "The Daily Show," Comedy Central, 1/15).




Over a slide show of video clips and images from the Women's March on Nashville, a reporter at the Knoxville News Sentinel talks to former Tennessee Rep. Gloria Johnson (D) about the rally in support of access to women's health services and opposed to proposed abortion restrictions. The march took place as the Tennessee Legislature convened for its 2015 session (Knoxville News Sentinel, 1/13). In a separate clip, Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health's Corinne Rovetti urges state lawmakers to become more educated on abortion-rights issues, saying to the rally attendees, "Abortion is safe, ... we are licensed and we are highly regulated already," adding, "We don't need ... redundant, unnecessary [and] ineffective [antiabortion-rights] laws. We are watching" (Rovetti, Healthy and Free Tennessee, 1/14).

W.Va. Lawmaker Refiles 20-Week Abortion Ban

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 21:23

West Virginia Delegate David Perry (D) on Tuesday reintroduced a measure (HB 2153) that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman is having a medical emergency, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

W.Va. Lawmaker Refiles 20-Week Abortion Ban

January 22, 2015 — West Virginia Delegate David Perry (D) on Tuesday reintroduced a measure (HB 2153) that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman is having a medical emergency, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/20).

Background

Last session, the state Legislature passed a bill (HB 4588) that would have banned abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the pregnancy was not viable. Specifically, the measure would have made it a misdemeanor for a physician to provide an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) vetoed the measure last session, saying that it was likely unconstitutional and would restrict pregnant women's health care. He also said he vetoed the bill because the medical community believes that the measure's legal penalties would have imposed on the patient-doctor relationship (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/31/14).

Latest Measure's Prospects

On Tuesday, Tomblin said he likely would veto the bill if it is identical to the one he vetoed last session. However, the state Legislature could override the governor's veto with a simple majority, according to the AP/Chronicle. Republicans hold a majority (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/20).

Tomblin last year said he is proud of his antiabortion-rights record and would work with the state Legislature in 2015 to enact legislation he feels is constitutional (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/27/14).

According to the AP/Chronicle, the latest measure is similar to an Arizona law (HB 2036) that a federal court ruled unconstitutional. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in the case (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/20).