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Daily Women's Health Policy Report by the National Partnership for Women & Families
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Wis. Appeals Judge's Medication Abortion Ruling

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 18:10

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) on Wednesday appealed a judge's ruling that a 2012 state law restricting medication abortion does not require a physician to be present when a woman ingests the drugs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Wis. Appeals Judge's Medication Abortion Ruling

September 9, 2014 — Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) on Wednesday appealed a judge's ruling that a 2012 state law restricting medication abortion does not require a physician to be present when a woman ingests the drugs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

The Sentinel/Pioneer Press notes that Van Hollen's office previously said the lawsuit, filed by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, could be dropped because all parties agreed on what the law requires.

The appeal does not argue that physicians must be present when women take medication abortion drugs but rather that the lawsuit should have been dismissed from the beginning because the state and PPWI were in agreement (Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 9/7).

Background on Lawsuit

The law (SB 306) stipulates that a physician must consult in person, not via webcam, with a woman seeking an abortion. The law also states that a physician must be physically present when administering medication abortion drugs, among other requirements.

The same doctor also must meet with the woman three times and complete steps to verify that she is seeking the procedure voluntarily. If a doctor failed to do so, he or she could face felony charges.

PPWI clinics in Madison, Milwaukee and Appleton temporarily stopped offering medication abortions because of confusion over the law but later resumed the service when the law was put on hold last year.

Although the state and Planned Parenthood, which challenged the law, agreed that it should not be interpreted to require a physician to be physically present for the administration of medication abortion drugs, jurisdictional issues had prolonged a resolution in the case.

In July, Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess agreed with the state and Planned Parenthood's interpretation of the law. In addition, Niess said in his ruling that as long as a doctor makes a good-faith effort to ensure that a woman was not forced into seeking an abortion, then the doctor should not face penalties under the law if it is later revealed that the woman was coerced (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/21).

Comments on Appeal

PPWI criticized the attorney general's office for appealing the case when all sides agreed on the law's interpretation. PPWI attorney Lester Pines said, "The only possible reason for the appeal could be to cost Planned Parenthood money," adding, "That's pretty frivolous."

Van Hollen spokesperson Dana Brueck said, "What is at issue is whether plaintiffs should have been permitted to bring a lawsuit over the meaning of a statute when there was no disagreement. Fictional lawsuits like this are a waste of limited judicial and state taxpayer resources" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 9/7).


Mo. Legislature Poised for Veto Override Vote on 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 18:08

The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature is planning a vote this week with the aim of overriding Gov. Jay Nixon's (D) veto of legislation (HR 1307) that would increase the state's mandatory delay before an abortion to 72 hours, USA Today reports.

Mo. Legislature Poised for Veto Override Vote on 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill

September 9, 2014 — The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature is planning a vote this week with the aim of overriding Gov. Jay Nixon's (D) veto of legislation (HR 1307) that would increase the state's mandatory delay before an abortion to 72 hours, USA Today reports (Winter, USA Today, 9/8).

In order to override Nixon's veto, two-thirds of state lawmakers must vote for the override in each chamber (Lieb, AP/Yahoo! News, 9/8).

With all members of their party present, state Republican lawmakers have enough votes to override any veto if they all vote together, according to the Kansas City Star (Hancock, Kansas City Star, 9/7). The bill passed the state House with more than a two-thirds majority, but the vote in the state Senate was one vote shy of that threshold because of a GOP senator's absence that day (AP/Yahoo! News, 9/8).

While veto sessions typically last for one day, the amount of vetoes that lawmakers plan to consider could extend the session to Friday, when one GOP state senator expects to be absent (Kansas City Star, 9/7).

Lawmakers are also expected to attempt to override a veto of another measure (HB 1132) that would extend tax credits for donations made to "a maternity home, pregnancy resource center, or a food pantry" (USA Today, 9/8).

Background on Mandatory Delay Bill

Under HR 1307, survivors of rape and incest would not be exempt from the mandatory delay. Women with medical emergencies are exempt under the state's current 24-hour mandatory delay and would have continued to be exempt under the new legislation.

The bill also includes a provision that would have required the state to revert to the 24-hour delay if a court struck down the 72-hour delay.

Last week, Nixon urged state lawmakers not to override his veto of the bill and several of his other vetoes that are up for override votes. He called the lack of exceptions for survivors of rape and incest "extreme" -- a criticism that he also made when he vetoed the bill in July (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/5).

He also noted at the time that Missouri already has numerous abortion restrictions in place, including mandatory counseling requirements before a woman can obtain an abortion (USA Today, 9/8).

Override Procedures Debated

State Republican legislative leaders believe they can consider the votes all in one day by lumping votes on budget-related vetoes together, reducing the number of votes they will need to consider to 13 instead of 130. "That's the way we are hoping to proceed," state Senator Ryan Silvey (R) said.

However, Nixon has said that lawmakers must consider votes on all 130 items and that doing otherwise would violate the state's constitution (Kansas City Star, 9/7).

Planned Parenthood Responds

Officials from Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion clinic, have not said whether they would challenge the mandatory delay law in court if it becomes law.

If enacted, the 72-hour mandatory delay could mean that patients, who travel an average of almost 100 miles to get to the clinic in St. Louis, would either have to make two trips or stay in the city for multiple nights in order to receive both the consultation appointment and the procedure during the same trip, according to M'Evie Mead, director of statewide organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri.

Both options would increase the financial burden for patients. "It really is just a cruel way to force a woman to delay her health care," Mead said.

Abortion-rights groups have noted that there is no evidence that the longer delay will reduce the number of abortions (AP/Yahoo! News, 9/8).


Mo. Legislature Poised for Veto Override Vote on 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 16:54

The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature is planning a vote this week with the aim of overriding Gov. Jay Nixon's (D) veto of legislation (HR 1307) that would increase the state's mandatory delay before an abortion to 72 hours, USA Today reports.

Mo. Legislature Poised for Veto Override Vote on 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill

September 9, 2014 — The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature is planning a vote this week with the aim of overriding Gov. Jay Nixon's (D) veto of legislation (HR 1307) that would increase the state's mandatory delay before an abortion to 72 hours, USA Today reports (Winter, USA Today, 9/8).

In order to override Nixon's veto, two-thirds of state lawmakers must vote for the override in each chamber (Lieb, AP/Yahoo! News, 9/8).

With all members of their party present, state Republican lawmakers have enough votes to override any veto if they all vote together, according to the Kansas City Star (Hancock, Kansas City Star, 9/7). The bill passed the state House with more than a two-thirds majority, but the vote in the state Senate was one vote shy of that threshold because of a GOP senator's absence that day (AP/Yahoo! News, 9/8).

While veto sessions typically last for one day, the amount of vetoes that lawmakers plan to consider could extend the session to Friday, when one GOP state senator expects to be absent (Kansas City Star, 9/7).

Lawmakers are also expected to attempt to override a veto of another measure (HB 1132) that would extend tax credits for donations made to "a maternity home, pregnancy resource center, or a food pantry" (USA Today, 9/8).

Background on Mandatory Delay Bill

Under HR 1307, survivors of rape and incest would not be exempt from the mandatory delay. Women with medical emergencies are exempt under the state's current 24-hour mandatory delay and would have continued to be exempt under the new legislation.

The bill also includes a provision that would have required the state to revert to the 24-hour delay if a court struck down the 72-hour delay.

Last week, Nixon urged state lawmakers not to override his veto of the bill and several of his other vetoes that are up for override votes. He called the lack of exceptions for survivors of rape and incest "extreme" -- a criticism that he also made when he vetoed the bill in July (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/5).

He also noted at the time that Missouri already has numerous abortion restrictions in place, including mandatory counseling requirements before a woman can obtain an abortion (USA Today, 9/8).

Override Procedures Debated

State Republican legislative leaders believe they can consider the votes all in one day by lumping votes on budget-related vetoes together, reducing the number of votes they will need to consider to 13 instead of 130. "That's the way we are hoping to proceed," state Senator Ryan Silvey (R) said.

However, Nixon has said that lawmakers must consider votes on all 130 items and that doing otherwise would violate the state's constitution (Kansas City Star, 9/7).

Planned Parenthood Responds

Officials from Planned Parenthood, which operates the state's only abortion clinic, have not said whether they would challenge the mandatory delay law in court if it becomes law.

If enacted, the 72-hour mandatory delay could mean that patients, who travel an average of almost 100 miles to get to the clinic in St. Louis, would either have to make two trips or stay in the city for multiple nights in order to receive both the consultation appointment and the procedure during the same trip, according to M'Evie Mead, director of statewide organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri.

Both options would increase the financial burden for patients. "It really is just a cruel way to force a woman to delay her health care," Mead said.

Abortion-rights groups have noted that there is no evidence that the longer delay will reduce the number of abortions (AP/Yahoo! News, 9/8).


Blogs Discuss Barriers to Abortion Access, Wendy Davis' Abortion Story, More

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 16:21

Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Feministing, Salon and more.

Blogs Discuss Barriers to Abortion Access, Wendy Davis' Abortion Story, More

September 9, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Feministing, Salon and more.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS AND ACCESS: "Single Mother Will Spend at Least One Year in Prison for Getting Her Daughter Abortion Pills," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing: "State laws requiring an abortion to [be] performed by a doctor were intended to prosecute quack providers; they were never intended to be used against people seeking to end their pregnancies -- and they make no sense in the modern world where the procedure can be 'performed' non-surgically by taking a couple pills," Dusenbery writes. Unfortunately, such laws "continue to be abused," such as in the case of "Jennifer Whalen, the Pennsylvania mother charged with a felony for helping her daughter get an abortion" via medication abortion drugs who "has been sentenced to up to 18 months in prison." Dusenbery continues, "If these laws remain on the books ... it's terribly obvious what the consequence will be: Pregnant people -- whether they intended to end their pregnancies or not -- will be afraid to seek medical help when they need it" (Dusenbery, Feministing, 9/8).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions and access:

~ "Miscarriage Isn't Illegal, but it's Increasingly Treated With Suspicion," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check.

BREAST CANCER: "The 'Angelina Jolie Effect': More Women Now Considering Similar Steps To Prevent Breast Cancer," Sam Collins, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie's decision to undergo a double mastectomy last year has inspired more women to take their health into their own hands and receive genetic counseling," Collins writes, citing a study that found genetic counseling referrals at a cancer center based in Toronto, Canada, "doubled after Jolie's announcement." Overall, "the rates at which women receive mastectomies [have] increased by double digit percentages" since the late 1990s, Collins writes. However, she notes that even "with a 95-percent reduction rate among women who receive mastectomies, the risk of breast cancer still exists." In addition, recent studies "have also found that removal of both breasts didn't extend patients' lives any more than ... removing cancerous lumps, followed by radiotherapy," she writes, adding that many "experts warn against taking what they consider a drastic measure to prevent the spread of a tumor" (Collins, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 9/5).

CONTRACEPTION: "Tubal Ligation in Catholic Hospitals: A Qualitative Study of Ob-Gyns' Experiences," Lori Freedman/Debra Stulber, ANSIRH Blog: In a recent study, Freedman and Stulber found that ob-gyns who work in Catholic hospitals and cannot "perform a post-partum tubal ligation" are frustrated "because hospital religious policy mandates that physicians cannot give the patient what she wants and needs, despite their own medical judgment." Denying women "a desired sterilization" is a "troubling trend," Freedman and Stulber write, noting that women "who have decided they are done having kids and are in the hospital anyway are regularly told they will need to go to a different facility months later if they want their tubes tied." They write, "There is really no excuse for requiring a woman to go through the risks of surgery twice, when only once is necessary" (Freedman/Stulber, ANSIRH Blog, 9/8).

ABORTION STORIES: "Wendy Davis' Choice: Why Speaking Out About Abortion Must Remain a Woman's Decision," Jenny Kutner, Salon: Texas gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) did "exactly what she should have done" when she revealed "private information about her reproductive history," not because "it might impact the polls," but because "Davis decided that sharing her abortion stories was the right decision for her," Kutner writes. However, Kutner stresses that women who are making abortion decisions or deciding whether to share their abortion stories "must make the choices that are best for them and for their families." She writes that while sharing abortion stories "shamelessly and openly ... [is] a simple act that has the potential to eliminate the stigma attached to abortion," women who do not share such stories are "exercising yet another right -- to maintain their privacy" (Kutner, Salon, 9/8).

What others are saying about abortion stories:

~ "Why is the Media Asking Anti-Choice Extremists About Wendy Davis' Abortions?" Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.

SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES: "The Parent Gap: Many Challengers of Birth Control Benefit Don't Offer Parental Leave Either," Sofia Resnick, RH Reality Check: A RH Reality Check analysis finds that "[m]any of the employers currently suing the federal government over the Affordable Care Act's [PL 111-148] contraceptive benefit fail to offer employees robust parental leave coverage," Resnick writes. She notes that despite these employers' "stated commitment to protecting and fostering new life, many … offer only the minimum federally mandated unpaid time off to employees, making it difficult for many families to have children without missing at least a few paychecks." Resnick highlights the example of Wheaton College, which has challenged the contraceptive coverage rules in court and where there is "a debate going on … over whether the lack of guaranteed paid maternity leave is consistent with the school’s pro-family stance" (Resnick, RH Reality Check, 9/8).


Wis. Appeals Judge's Medication Abortion Ruling

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 14:42

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) on Wednesday appealed a judge's ruling that a 2012 state law restricting medication abortion does not require a physician to be present when a woman ingests the drugs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Wis. Appeals Judge's Medication Abortion Ruling

September 9, 2014 — Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) on Wednesday appealed a judge's ruling that a 2012 state law restricting medication abortion does not require a physician to be present when a woman ingests the drugs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

The Sentinel/Pioneer Press notes that Van Hollen's office previously said the lawsuit, filed by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, could be dropped because all parties agreed on what the law requires.

The appeal does not argue that physicians must be present when women take medication abortion drugs but rather that the lawsuit should have been dismissed from the beginning because the state and PPWI were in agreement (Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 9/7).

Background on Lawsuit

The law (SB 306) stipulates that a physician must consult in person, not via webcam, with a woman seeking an abortion. The law also states that a physician must be physically present when administering medication abortion drugs, among other requirements.

The same doctor also must meet with the woman three times and complete steps to verify that she is seeking the procedure voluntarily. If a doctor failed to do so, he or she could face felony charges.

PPWI clinics in Madison, Milwaukee and Appleton temporarily stopped offering medication abortions because of confusion over the law but later resumed the service when the law was put on hold last year.

Although the state and Planned Parenthood, which challenged the law, agreed that it should not be interpreted to require a physician to be physically present for the administration of medication abortion drugs, jurisdictional issues had prolonged a resolution in the case.

In July, Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess agreed with the state and Planned Parenthood's interpretation of the law. In addition, Niess said in his ruling that as long as a doctor makes a good-faith effort to ensure that a woman was not forced into seeking an abortion, then the doctor should not face penalties under the law if it is later revealed that the woman was coerced (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/21).

Comments on Appeal

PPWI criticized the attorney general's office for appealing the case when all sides agreed on the law's interpretation. PPWI attorney Lester Pines said, "The only possible reason for the appeal could be to cost Planned Parenthood money," adding, "That's pretty frivolous."

Van Hollen spokesperson Dana Brueck said, "What is at issue is whether plaintiffs should have been permitted to bring a lawsuit over the meaning of a statute when there was no disagreement. Fictional lawsuits like this are a waste of limited judicial and state taxpayer resources" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 9/7).


Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Davis Discusses Personal Abortion Experience in Memoir

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 18:28

In a forthcoming memoir, Texas gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) discloses obtaining an abortion 17 years ago during a wanted pregnancy after learning that the fetus had an acute brain abnormality, the San Antonio Express-News reports. She also discusses details surrounding the termination of another pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy that she disclosed previously.

Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Davis Discusses Personal Abortion Experience in Memoir

September 8, 2014 — In a forthcoming memoir, Texas gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) discloses obtaining an abortion 17 years ago during a wanted pregnancy after learning that the fetus had an acute brain abnormality, the San Antonio Express-News reports. She also discusses details surrounding the termination of another pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy that she disclosed previously.

The book, titled "Forgetting to Be Afraid," will be released Tuesday, according to the Express-News (Fikac, San Antonio Express News, 9/6).

Background

Davis drew national attention last year for her 11-hour filibuster that helped stall a restrictive abortion bill from becoming law, although the measure (HB 2) later passed in another special session. Last October, she announced her bid for the governor's office against state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/4/13).

Some provisions of HB 2 are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/2).

Ectopic Pregnancy

Davis learned in the first trimester of a pregnancy in 1994 that the embryo was implanted outside the uterus. She had two young daughters at the time (AP/New York Times, 9/5). Ectopic pregnancies are not sustainable and can be dangerous to the woman's health if the fallopian tube ruptures. Davis' doctor advised her to end the pregnancy (San Antonio Express News, 9/6).

Davis notes in the memoir that the procedure to end an ectopic pregnancy is "technically considered an abortion" in the state and that "doctors have to report it as such."

Second Abortion Procedure

Davis in the memoir discusses a second abortion for the first time, describing it as an emotionally trying experience that left her permanently changed, according to the AP/New York Times.

She writes that she underwent the procedure in 1996 after a medical examination revealed that the fetus' brain had developed in such a way that the right and left sides of the brain were separated. She consulted several physicians, who told her that if the fetus survived delivery, the child would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state.

She writes of carrying the pregnancy, "I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do. She was suffering" (AP/New York Times, 9/5).

"An indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark despair and grief, a heavy wave that crushed me, that made me wonder if I would ever surface," Davis writes, adding, "And when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed."

Davis says that she nearly disclosed the abortion during her filibuster of HB 2 before deciding against it out of concerns that it would overshadow the filibuster's message, according to the Express-News (San Antonio Express-News, 9/6).

Reaction

Groups supporting and opposing abortion rights responded to the memoir over the weekend (Langford/Ura, Texas Tribune, 9/6). Planned Parenthood Votes President Cecile Richards said in a statement, "While no woman should have to justify her decision, abortion later in pregnancy is rare, and is often due to the same sort of tragic and heartbreaking circumstance that [Davis] experienced -- the kind of situation where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available" (Glueck, Politico, 9/6).

Meanwhile, antiabortion-rights groups said that women should continue their pregnancies when there are severe fetal anomalies (Texas Tribune, 9/8). Melissa Conway, a spokesperson for Texas Right to Life, said, "That's an incredibly difficult position for anyone to find themselves in. While our heart goes out for the decision she had to make, again, ... the value of life is precious" (AP/New York Times, 9/5).

Commenting on the political ramifications of Davis' memoir, Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said, "The group that will be most bothered by her having an abortion of a baby with a severe fetal abnormality is a group that wasn't going to vote for her anyway." He continued, "The positive side of it for her is it humanizes her, and also makes it a little tricky for opponents to attack her on the abortion issue because now, it not only is a political issue for her, but it's a personal issue" (San Antonio Express-News, 9/6).


More States Protecting Pregnant Workers Through Legislation

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 17:31

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) on Tuesday is expected to sign a bill (SB 212) that would bolster accommodations for pregnant workers, making Delaware the most recent on a growing list of states and localities to increase workplace protections during pregnancy, Brigid Schulte writes in the Washington Post's "She The People."

More States Protecting Pregnant Workers Through Legislation

September 8, 2014 — Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) on Tuesday is expected to sign a bill (SB 212) that would bolster accommodations for pregnant workers, making Delaware the most recent on a growing list of states and localities to increase workplace protections during pregnancy, Brigid Schulte writes in the Washington Post's "She The People."

The Delaware Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, sponsored by state Sen. Bethany Hall-Long (D), would ensure that pregnant women receive "reasonable and fair" accommodations -- such as sitting, carrying water bottles, taking bathroom breaks or avoiding heavy lifting -- so they can continue working through their pregnancies, according to Schulte.

Hall-Long said, "This makes common sense not just for maternal and child health, but as good, sound economics." She added, "A simple accommodation is so much easier than laying someone off" or "terminating them." The Delaware legislation passed unanimously with support from lawmakers in both parties and the business community.

The bill, like some similar measures elsewhere, would allow employers to refuse the accommodations under circumstances that would pose undue hardship on the company.

More States Enacting Protections

More states have been considering legislation to protect pregnant workers as lawsuits and pregnancy discrimination claims have increased, according to Schulte. Lawmakers who support allowing workplace accommodations during pregnancy call the measures "'common sense'" legislation, and the "movement has been picking up steam," Schulte writes.

In the last 18 months, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and New Jersey have passed laws that improve protections against job-based discrimination for pregnant women. California and Hawaii have similar laws. Meanwhile, legislation is pending in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin, according to Schulte.

Federal Action

Democrats in Congress have been working to pass a federal version of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S 942, HR 1975). President Obama in June urged lawmakers to pass it.

The bills have 30 Senate and 135 House Democrat co-sponsors but have been "[c]aught in the mire of bitterly divided partisan politics," Schulte writes.

Hall-Long said, "It's really important that folks understand that pregnancy isn't a Democratic or Republican issue. It affects all of us" (Schulte, "She The People," Washington Post, 9/8).


More States Protecting Pregnant Workers Through Legislation

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 17:20

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) on Tuesday is expected to sign a bill (SB 212) that would bolster accommodations for pregnant workers, making Delaware the most recent on a growing list of states and localities to increase workplace protections during pregnancy, Brigid Schulte writes in the Washington Post's "She The People."

More States Protecting Pregnant Workers Through Legislation

September 8, 2014 — Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) on Tuesday is expected to sign a bill (SB 212) that would bolster accommodations for pregnant workers, making Delaware the most recent on a growing list of states and localities to increase workplace protections during pregnancy, Brigid Schulte writes in the Washington Post's "She The People."

The Delaware Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, sponsored by state Sen. Bethany Hall-Long (D), would ensure that pregnant women receive "reasonable and fair" accommodations -- such as sitting, carrying water bottles, taking bathroom breaks or avoiding heavy lifting -- so they can continue working through their pregnancies, according to Schulte.

Hall-Long said, "This makes common sense not just for maternal and child health, but as good, sound economics." She added, "A simple accommodation is so much easier than laying someone off" or "terminating them." The Delaware legislation passed unanimously with support from lawmakers in both parties and the business community.

The bill, like some similar measures elsewhere, would allow employers to refuse the accommodations under circumstances that would pose undue hardship on the company.

More States Enacting Protections

More states have been considering legislation to protect pregnant workers as lawsuits and pregnancy discrimination claims have increased, according to Schulte. Lawmakers who support allowing workplace accommodations during pregnancy call the measures "'common sense'" legislation, and the "movement has been picking up steam," Schulte writes.

In the last 18 months, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and New Jersey have passed laws that improve protections against job-based discrimination for pregnant women. California and Hawaii have similar laws. Meanwhile, legislation is pending in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin, according to Schulte.

Federal Action

Democrats in Congress have been working to pass a federal version of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S 942, HR 1975). President Obama in June urged lawmakers to pass it.

The bills have 30 Senate and 135 House Democrat co-sponsors but have been "[c]aught in the mire of bitterly divided partisan politics," Schulte writes.

Hall-Long said, "It's really important that folks understand that pregnancy isn't a Democratic or Republican issue. It affects all of us" (Schulte, "She The People," Washington Post, 9/8).


Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Davis Discusses Personal Abortion Experience in Memoir

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 16:22

In a forthcoming memoir, Texas gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) discloses obtaining an abortion 17 years ago during a wanted pregnancy after learning that the fetus had an acute brain abnormality, the San Antonio Express-News reports. She also discusses details surrounding the termination of another pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy that she disclosed previously.

Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Davis Discusses Personal Abortion Experience in Memoir

September 8, 2014 — In a forthcoming memoir, Texas gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) discloses obtaining an abortion 17 years ago during a wanted pregnancy after learning that the fetus had an acute brain abnormality, the San Antonio Express-News reports. She also discusses details surrounding the termination of another pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy that she disclosed previously.

The book, titled "Forgetting to Be Afraid," will be released Tuesday, according to the Express-News (Fikac, San Antonio Express News, 9/6).

Background

Davis drew national attention last year for her 11-hour filibuster that helped stall a restrictive abortion bill from becoming law, although the measure (HB 2) later passed in another special session. Last October, she announced her bid for the governor's office against state Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/4/13).

Some provisions of HB 2 are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/2).

Ectopic Pregnancy

Davis learned in the first trimester of a pregnancy in 1994 that the embryo was implanted outside the uterus. She had two young daughters at the time (AP/New York Times, 9/5). Ectopic pregnancies are not sustainable and can be dangerous to the woman's health if the fallopian tube ruptures. Davis' doctor advised her to end the pregnancy (San Antonio Express News, 9/6).

Davis notes in the memoir that the procedure to end an ectopic pregnancy is "technically considered an abortion" in the state and that "doctors have to report it as such."

Second Abortion Procedure

Davis in the memoir discusses a second abortion for the first time, describing it as an emotionally trying experience that left her permanently changed, according to the AP/New York Times.

She writes that she underwent the procedure in 1996 after a medical examination revealed that the fetus' brain had developed in such a way that the right and left sides of the brain were separated. She consulted several physicians, who told her that if the fetus survived delivery, the child would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state.

She writes of carrying the pregnancy, "I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do. She was suffering" (AP/New York Times, 9/5).

"An indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark despair and grief, a heavy wave that crushed me, that made me wonder if I would ever surface," Davis writes, adding, "And when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed."

Davis says that she nearly disclosed the abortion during her filibuster of HB 2 before deciding against it out of concerns that it would overshadow the filibuster's message, according to the Express-News (San Antonio Express-News, 9/6).

Reaction

Groups supporting and opposing abortion rights responded to the memoir over the weekend (Langford/Ura, Texas Tribune, 9/6). Planned Parenthood Votes President Cecile Richards said in a statement, "While no woman should have to justify her decision, abortion later in pregnancy is rare, and is often due to the same sort of tragic and heartbreaking circumstance that [Davis] experienced -- the kind of situation where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available" (Glueck, Politico, 9/6).

Meanwhile, antiabortion-rights groups said that women should continue their pregnancies when there are severe fetal anomalies (Texas Tribune, 9/8). Melissa Conway, a spokesperson for Texas Right to Life, said, "That's an incredibly difficult position for anyone to find themselves in. While our heart goes out for the decision she had to make, again, ... the value of life is precious" (AP/New York Times, 9/5).

Commenting on the political ramifications of Davis' memoir, Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said, "The group that will be most bothered by her having an abortion of a baby with a severe fetal abnormality is a group that wasn't going to vote for her anyway." He continued, "The positive side of it for her is it humanizes her, and also makes it a little tricky for opponents to attack her on the abortion issue because now, it not only is a political issue for her, but it's a personal issue" (San Antonio Express-News, 9/6).


Contraception Among Hot Election Issues in Some Races, NYT's Collins Writes

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 15:57

"We're entering another election season in which women's issues loom large," New York Times columnist Gail Collins writes.

Contraception Among Hot Election Issues in Some Races, NYT's Collins Writes

September 8, 2014 — "We're entering another election season in which women's issues loom large," New York Times columnist Gail Collins writes.

In some "close elections" this year, conservative "candidates are falling madly in love with contraception" and have "turn[ed] into cheerleaders for over-the-counter birth control pills," she notes.

GOP candidates typically oppose abortion rights and public funding for Planned Parenthood, Collins writes, adding that many also support the "personhood" movement, which seeks to grant legal rights beginning at the moment of fertilization.

Voters considering candidates' positions on contraception also should consider those candidates' past positions on reproductive health and rights issues, she argues (Collins, New York Times, 9/5).


CDC Surveys Sheds Light on Prevalence of Sexual Violence in U.S.

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 15:12

About 19% of women and 2% of men in the U.S. have been raped at some point in their lives, while many more have experienced other forms of sexual violence, according to a recent CDC report, the Washington Times reports.

CDC Surveys Sheds Light on Prevalence of Sexual Violence in U.S.

September 8, 2014 — About 19% of women and 2% of men in the U.S. have been raped at some point in their lives, while many more have experienced other forms of sexual violence, according to a recent CDC report, the Washington Times reports.

For the report, researchers analyzed data from the 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, which consisted of telephone surveys of more than 12,000 U.S. adults.

The researchers found that 44% of women -- the equivalent of 53 million nationwide -- and 23% of men -- or 27 million -- reported experiencing a form of sexual violence other than rape. In addition, 23 million women and almost two million men in the U.S. have been raped, according to the results.

Most respondents said they first experienced sexual violence or rape by age 25. The report also found that most perpetrators were current or former partners, acquaintances, or family members, while rapes by strangers or "persons of authority," such as coaches or clergy members, were less prevalent.

The reported also noted that 99% of the female respondents were raped by men, while 79% of male respondents also were raped by men (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 9/4).


Calif. 'Yes Means Yes' Bill 'A Welcome Game-Changer,' NYT Op-Ed States

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 14:19

"[T]he recent passage of Senate Bill 967 in California is ... a welcome game-changer in understanding and preventing sexual assault," write Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms. Magazine and the Women's Media Center, and Michael Kimmel, a sociology and gender studies professor at Stony Brook University, in a New York Times opinion piece.

Calif. 'Yes Means Yes' Bill 'A Welcome Game-Changer,' NYT Op-Ed States

September 8, 2014 — "[T]he recent passage of Senate Bill 967 in California is ... a welcome game-changer in understanding and preventing sexual assault," write Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms. Magazine and the Women's Media Center, and Michael Kimmel, a sociology and gender studies professor at Stony Brook University, in a New York Times opinion piece.

Steinem and Kimmel write that the bill, which Gov. Jerry Grown (D) is expected to sign, "would make California the first state to embrace what has become known as the 'yes means yes' law, because it alters the standard regarding consent to sexual activity on college campuses."

Specifically, they write that the bill would redefine the "enormous gray area between 'yes' and 'no'" by affirming in statute that "[s]ilence is not consent," but rather the "absence of consent." This is a "completely logical" standard "and fully consistent with adjudicating other crimes," they write.

Steinem and Kimmel acknowledge that the new standard "is bound to raise howls of protest from opponents of women's equality and their right to make decisions about their own bodies." However, they note that the standard has been successfully implemented in Canada and at Antioch College, even though the initial reaction at the college "was overwhelmingly negative" (Kimmel/Steinem, New York Times, 9/4).


Featured Blogs

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 17:20

"Abortion Rights Aren't Safe in the South," (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 9/2); "Montana Charges Woman With 'Criminal Endangerment' at Just 12 Weeks Pregnant," (Marty, Care2, 9/2).

September 5, 2014

FEATURED BLOG

"Abortion Rights Aren't Safe in the South," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": While "abortion rights supporters have won several key victories in federal court ... the wins aren't likely to be permanent," Culp-Ressler writes. She notes that while federal judges recently have blocked restrictive abortion legislation in Alabama, Texas and Louisiana, their decisions "aren't the final word on the matter." Texas has already appealed and Louisiana is waiting to see "whether its law will be permanently enjoined," meaning that "there's 'a real risk' looming in subsequent court decisions," Culp-Ressler writes. Further, if the issue goes before the Supreme Court, "the nation's highest court can't necessarily be counted on to protect reproductive rights," given the "current make up of the bench," Culp-Ressler concludes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 9/2).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "A Huge Abortion Win in Texas," Emily Bazelon, Slate's "Jurisprudence."

~ "National Right to Life President: Texas Abortion Bill Intended To Shutter Clinics," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.

FEATURED BLOG

"Montana Charges Woman With 'Criminal Endangerment' at Just 12 Weeks Pregnant," Robin Marty, Care2: The arrest of Montana woman Casey Gloria Allen for child endangerment for testing positive for drugs while just 12 weeks pregnant "has left a lot of questions unanswered," including whether Allen's physician alerted the police, Marty writes. "If we want pregnant women to obtain prenatal care and drug-treatment therapies, they have to trust that a trip to the doctor won't end with the police at her doorstep," she argues. Marty wonders if Allen knew she was pregnant, asking, "How can someone be charged for committing a crime against a 'person' that she either might not have known existed or had no intention of giving birth to?" Marty continues, "By promoting a series of laws that punish a pregnant person by granting legal rights to the embryo or fetus," abortion-rights opponents "are pitting pregnant people against their own pregnancies, and leaving them no option but to terminate that pregnancy in order to avoid stiffer penalties from law enforcement" (Marty, Care2, 9/2).

Ill. To Work With Catholic Providers Over Concerns About Medicaid Birth Control Referrals

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 17:15

Illinois Medicaid officials are working out the details of a plan to raise provider reimbursement rates for certain contraceptives while ensuring that patients at Catholic hospitals can obtain referrals for contraceptive services, the AP/CBS News reports.

Ill. To Work With Catholic Providers Over Concerns About Medicaid Birth Control Referrals

September 5, 2014 — Illinois Medicaid officials are working out the details of a plan to raise provider reimbursement rates for certain contraceptives while ensuring that patients at Catholic hospitals can obtain referrals for contraceptive services, the AP/CBS News reports.

The state Department of Healthcare and Family Services is accepting comments on the 11-point plan through Sept. 15 (AP/CBS News, 9/3).

Background

The Illinois proposal aims to improve access to long-acting contraceptive methods by doubling Medicaid provider reimbursement rates for vasectomies and intrauterine devices. The plan also would boost reimbursements for non-surgical sterilization kits and bar "step therapy" rules that require women to try certain forms of contraception before others (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/22).

According to Melissa Gilliam, chief of family planning and contraceptive research at the University of Chicago Medicine, the existing Illinois Medicaid payment system discourages some physicians from offering long-acting methods. She noted, "For some providers, [the state's plan] will make a very big difference and it will be a very welcome change."

Process for Catholic Providers

Under the plan, Catholic health care providers that object to contraception would be required to annually provide DHFS with information on how they refer Medicaid patients to other providers who offer the services.

Patrick Cacchione, executive director of the Illinois Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic hospitals in the state, expressed concern that the referral provision could force Catholic hospitals out of the state's Medicaid program.

Cacchione said, "Will they say you can't contract with Medicaid [without an adequate referral plan]?"

DHFS spokesperson Joanne von Alroth said the department will work with "all providers to make sure they have some sort of referral plan so patients can get the contraceptive services they seek" (AP/CBS News, 9/3).


La. Medicaid Plans, Some Private Plans Stop Covering Early Elective Deliveries

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 17:13

Louisiana's Medicaid program and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana no longer cover the cost of deliveries that occur before 39 weeks of pregnancy without a medical reason, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

La. Medicaid Plans, Some Private Plans Stop Covering Early Elective Deliveries

September 5, 2014 — Louisiana's Medicaid program and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana no longer cover the cost of deliveries that occur before 39 weeks of pregnancy without a medical reason, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. The state Medicaid changes took effect on July 1, while the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana policy change took effect on Sept. 1.

State medical leaders formally announced the changes on Wednesday at Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge. They cited the health benefits of avoiding medically unnecessary early deliveries, as well as the potential cost savings from avoiding complications related to such deliveries.

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert said the new policy "will help reduce complications for our children and their mothers" and allow the fetus "to fully develop before birth."

Impact of Early Elective Births

Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has long discouraged elective deliveries before 39 weeks, about 10% to 15% of U.S. births are performed early without a medical reason, according to a 2009 study cited recently by HHS.

In 2007, Woman's Hospital became one of the first in Louisiana to announce it would no longer perform elective deliveries before 39 weeks, leading to a 20% decrease in neonatal intensive care unit admissions for critically ill newborns and a 3% reduction in C-sections (Crisp, Baton Rouge Advocate, 9/3).


True Intention of Many State Laws is To Block Abortion Rights, L.A. Times Editorial Says

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 17:12

While "[m]any of the regulations on abortion now cropping up in states across the country are being passed off as attempts to protect women's health ... what they are really intended to do is to continue the long-running war on women's reproductive rights that unfortunately did not end with Roe vs. Wade 40 years ago," a Los Angeles Times editorial states.

True Intention of Many State Laws is To Block Abortion Rights, L.A. Times Editorial Says

September 5, 2014 — While "[m]any of the regulations on abortion now cropping up in states across the country are being passed off as attempts to protect women's health ... what they are really intended to do is to continue the long-running war on women's reproductive rights that unfortunately did not end with Roe vs. Wade 40 years ago," a Los Angeles Times editorial states.

Such laws -- including requirements that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and that clinics must meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers -- "could actually harm women's health by delaying their access to a legal, safe procedure," the Times argues.

Further, the laws "unfairly single out abortion for more regulation than other medical procedures of similar or greater risk," the editorial continues. The Times points out that "[m]ore than 90% of abortions performed in the United States are done in outpatient settings, with a less than 0.3% risk of major complications requiring hospitalization, according to an amicus brief filed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in a lawsuit challenging" a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2).

The Times contrasts those statistics with risks for other procedures, such as colonoscopies, which "can be done in doctors' offices, yet the mortality rate of that procedure is 34.5 per 100,000," which is 40 times greater than the mortality rate for abortion in the U.S. from 2000 to 2009.

The Times urges courts to "realize that [these laws] are not grounded in legitimate concerns about a woman's risk during abortion" but "are designed to thwart her attempt to get one" (Los Angeles Times, 9/4).


Veto of 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill Should Stand, Mo. Gov. Urges

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 17:11

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on Thursday urged state lawmakers not to override his vetoes of several bills -- including one that would increase the state's mandatory delay before an abortion to 72 hours -- when they return for a special session next week, the Missourian reports.

Veto of 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill Should Stand, Mo. Gov. Urges

September 5, 2014 — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on Thursday urged state lawmakers not to override his vetoes of several bills -- including one that would increase the state's mandatory delay before an abortion to 72 hours -- when they return for a special session next week, the Missourian reports (Sitter, Missourian, 9/4).

Bill Background

Under the bill (HR 1307), survivors of rape and incest would not have been exempt from the mandatory delay. Women with medical emergencies are exempt under the state's current 24-hour mandatory delay and would have continued to be exempt under the new legislation.

The bill, passed by the House in May, also includes a provision that would have required the state to revert to the 24-hour delay if a court struck down the 72-hour delay.

When Nixon vetoed the bill in July, he criticized the state Legislature for failing to include an exception for cases of rape or incest, adding that the "extreme and disrespectful measure would unnecessarily prolong the suffering of rape and incest victims and jeopardize the health and wellbeing of women." However, he said he would have vetoed the bill even if it included an exception for rape and incest (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/7).

Veto Session Details

According to the Missourian, the veto session is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

Nixon reiterated Thursday that not "allow[ing] exceptions for rape and incest is extreme" (Missourian, 9/4).


Ill. To Work With Catholic Providers Over Concerns About Medicaid Birth Control Referrals

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 16:38

Illinois Medicaid officials are working out the details of a plan to raise provider reimbursement rates for certain contraceptives while ensuring that patients at Catholic hospitals can obtain referrals for contraceptive services, the AP/CBS News reports.

Ill. To Work With Catholic Providers Over Concerns About Medicaid Birth Control Referrals

September 5, 2014 — Illinois Medicaid officials are working out the details of a plan to raise provider reimbursement rates for certain contraceptives while ensuring that patients at Catholic hospitals can obtain referrals for contraceptive services, the AP/CBS News reports.

The state Department of Healthcare and Family Services is accepting comments on the 11-point plan through Sept. 15 (AP/CBS News, 9/3).

Background

The Illinois proposal aims to improve access to long-acting contraceptive methods by doubling Medicaid provider reimbursement rates for vasectomies and intrauterine devices. The plan also would boost reimbursements for non-surgical sterilization kits and bar "step therapy" rules that require women to try certain forms of contraception before others (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/22).

According to Melissa Gilliam, chief of family planning and contraceptive research at the University of Chicago Medicine, the existing Illinois Medicaid payment system discourages some physicians from offering long-acting methods. She noted, "For some providers, [the state's plan] will make a very big difference and it will be a very welcome change."

Process for Catholic Providers

Under the plan, Catholic health care providers that object to contraception would be required to annually provide DHFS with information on how they refer Medicaid patients to other providers who offer the services.

Patrick Cacchione, executive director of the Illinois Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic hospitals in the state, expressed concern that the referral provision could force Catholic hospitals out of the state's Medicaid program.

Cacchione said, "Will they say you can't contract with Medicaid [without an adequate referral plan]?"

DHFS spokesperson Joanne von Alroth said the department will work with "all providers to make sure they have some sort of referral plan so patients can get the contraceptive services they seek" (AP/CBS News, 9/3).


True Intention of Many State Laws is To Block Abortion Rights, L.A. Times Editorial Says

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 16:30

While "[m]any of the regulations on abortion now cropping up in states across the country are being passed off as attempts to protect women's health ... what they are really intended to do is to continue the long-running war on women's reproductive rights that unfortunately did not end with Roe vs. Wade 40 years ago," a Los Angeles Times editorial states.

True Intention of Many State Laws is To Block Abortion Rights, L.A. Times Editorial Says

September 5, 2014 — While "[m]any of the regulations on abortion now cropping up in states across the country are being passed off as attempts to protect women's health ... what they are really intended to do is to continue the long-running war on women's reproductive rights that unfortunately did not end with Roe vs. Wade 40 years ago," a Los Angeles Times editorial states.

Such laws -- including requirements that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and that clinics must meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers -- "could actually harm women's health by delaying their access to a legal, safe procedure," the Times argues.

Further, the laws "unfairly single out abortion for more regulation than other medical procedures of similar or greater risk," the editorial continues. The Times points out that "[m]ore than 90% of abortions performed in the United States are done in outpatient settings, with a less than 0.3% risk of major complications requiring hospitalization, according to an amicus brief filed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in a lawsuit challenging" a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2).

The Times contrasts those statistics with risks for other procedures, such as colonoscopies, which "can be done in doctors' offices, yet the mortality rate of that procedure is 34.5 per 100,000," which is 40 times greater than the mortality rate for abortion in the U.S. from 2000 to 2009.

The Times urges courts to "realize that [these laws] are not grounded in legitimate concerns about a woman's risk during abortion" but "are designed to thwart her attempt to get one" (Los Angeles Times, 9/4).


Veto of 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill Should Stand, Mo. Gov. Urges

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 16:27

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on Thursday urged state lawmakers not to override his vetoes of several bills -- including one that would increase the state's mandatory delay before an abortion to 72 hours -- when they return for a special session next week, the Missourian reports.

Veto of 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill Should Stand, Mo. Gov. Urges

September 5, 2014 — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on Thursday urged state lawmakers not to override his vetoes of several bills -- including one that would increase the state's mandatory delay before an abortion to 72 hours -- when they return for a special session next week, the Missourian reports (Sitter, Missourian, 9/4).

Bill Background

Under the bill (HR 1307), survivors of rape and incest would not have been exempt from the mandatory delay. Women with medical emergencies are exempt under the state's current 24-hour mandatory delay and would have continued to be exempt under the new legislation.

The bill, passed by the House in May, also includes a provision that would have required the state to revert to the 24-hour delay if a court struck down the 72-hour delay.

When Nixon vetoed the bill in July, he criticized the state Legislature for failing to include an exception for cases of rape or incest, adding that the "extreme and disrespectful measure would unnecessarily prolong the suffering of rape and incest victims and jeopardize the health and wellbeing of women." However, he said he would have vetoed the bill even if it included an exception for rape and incest (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/7).

Veto Session Details

According to the Missourian, the veto session is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

Nixon reiterated Thursday that not "allow[ing] exceptions for rape and incest is extreme" (Missourian, 9/4).