Roundup: North Dakota Considers Personhood Bill; Genetic Risks of IVF

Emily Douglas

North Dakota legislature considers personhood bill; possible genetic risks of IVF; Aspen Baker on MotherTalkers; evangelicals and abortion: not always opposed.

North Dakota Legislature Considers Personhood Bill
The North Dakota House is "hotly debating" a bill that would define
life as beginning at conception, with legislators trying to pass it in
time to send it to the Senate for approval.  But the KFYR-TV report mixes up bills: it says that the bill "would ensure
that before a woman is to have an abortion, she be informed that she
will be terminating the life of a human being. Sponsors say its intent
isn`t to ban abortions, but rather to decrease the number of them.
Opponents say the legislature shouldn`t interfere with a woman`s choice
to have an abortion."  That one is the informed consent bill, also being considered by North Dakota.  More to come on North Dakota’s anti-choice bills soon.

Possible Genetic Risks of IVF

At the New York Times,
Gina Kolata examines latest studies on genetic risks of IVF treatment. 
Writes Kolata, "researchers have always wondered whether there might be
subtle changes
in an embryo that is grown for several days in a petri dish, as IVF
embryos are – and, if so, whether would there be any consequences."  A
recent CDC study provided some preliminary insight into comparative
risks:

In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
published a paper reporting that babies conceived with IVF, or with a
technique in which sperm are injected directly into eggs, have a slightly increased risk of several birth defects, including a hole between the two chambers of the heart, a cleft lip
or palate, an improperly developed esophagus and a malformed rectum.
The study involved 9,584 babies with birth defects and 4,792 babies
without. Among the mothers of babies without birth defects, 1.1 percent
had used IVF or related methods, compared with 2.4 percent of mothers
of babies with birth defects.

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Kolata examines several other studies on IVF, and concludes, "But the real question – what is the chance that an
IVF baby will have a birth defect? – has not been definitively
answered."


Aspen Baker on MotherTalkers
Check out a provocative interview, and comments section, with Exhale executive director and Rewire contributor Aspen Baker on the blog MotherTalkers.  An excerpt:


Who in your group came up with the term "pro-voice?" What do you mean by that?

When we first launched the organization, the five of us said, "We
are going to be here for women after an abortion no matter what. If
they are pro-choice, if they are pro-life, if they are Christian or
not. (The abortion is) already done. That’s already over." What we see
is a real lack of room or space for women to talk about their own
experiences, to be heard and valued for those stories, that we don’t
have to listen to those stories through some political way…So from
the beginning we don’t attach a pro-choice or pro-life label to us.

Evangelicals and Abortion: Not Always Opposed

Have evangelicals always politicized abortion?  No, says Blake Ellis on the History News Network.  Writes Ellis, "In
fact, the politicization of the abortion
issue during the 1970s was hotly contested by many evangelicals, some
of them from denominations that were quite conservative."  Ellis
examines the work of Southern Baptist leader Foy Valentine, who
resisted Jerry Falwell’s push to criminalize abortion to the exclusion
of measures that would reduce it, like birth control access and
sexuality education.

News Abortion

Roundup: Manchin Introduces Title X Audit Reporting Bill

Beth Saunders

DC Abortion Fund helps women whose Medicaid-funding for abortion was pulled at the last minute; Florida senate wants to subject Medicaid funding for contraception to religious refusals; and Sen. Manchin thinks showing that no Title X money is spent on abortion will solve something.

DC Abortion Fund helps women whose Medicaid-funding for abortion was pulled at the last minute, Florida senate wants to subject Medicaid funding for contraception to religious refusals, and Sen. Manchin thinks showing that no Title X money is spent on abortion will solve something.

  • Twenty-eight women who were scheduled to terminate a pregnancy yesterday in the District of Columbia had intended to use Medicaid to pay for the procedure. But thanks to the budget deal reached in Congress, that funding expired at midnight on April 13. The DC Abortion Fund sent out an emergency plea to their supporters, and late last night, tweeted this good news:

    More women will need help in the coming days, not to mention for the foreseeable future.

  • Florida. Wow. The state legislature is really hating on birth control these days. The state senate has removed a mandatory provision for state Medicaid plans to provide contraception. Instead, they have introduced an amendment stating “Medicaid plans may elect to not provide birth control and other family planning services ‘due to an objection on moral or religious grounds.’”
  • Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has sponsored the Title X Transparency and Verification Act, which would require the Department of Health and Human Services to post independent audits verifying that Title X family planning money is not used for abortion. The audits are already conducted, but according to Manchin, are hard to access. He would like the public to be able to “easily access and independently verify information that not one single federal taxpayer dollar is used to fund abortions in this country.” Yes, because presenting radical anti-choicers with facts usually solves an issue. 

Apr 14

Morning Roundup: Lautenberg and Lee Introduce Bill Banning Funding of Abstinence-Only Programs

Beth Saunders

The Illinois House is using the conservative Agriculture Committee to pass anti-choice bills, North Dakota is looking at a personhood bill, and Sen. Lautenberg and Rep. Lee introduce a bill banning federal funding of ineffective abstinence programs.

The Illinois House is using the conservative Agriculture Committee to pass anti-choice bills, North Dakota is looking at a personhood bill, and Sen. Lautenberg and Rep. Lee introduce a bill banning federal funding of ineffective abstinence programs.

  • An Illinois House Committee has been busy with abortion-related bills recently. It recently passed a bill requiring clinics to fulfill the requirements of surgical centers, which could be devastating financially for many clinics in the state. What committee is hearing all these bills? Inexplicably, the Agriculture Committee, prompting protesters to wear buttons emblazoned with a cow and the words “Women are Not Livestock.” Apparently, the committee is full of conservatives from “downstate,” and when a House member introduces an anti-choice bill, he or she can request that the bill be sent to the Agriculture Committee to ensure passage.
  • A North Dakota legislator has introduced a bill to “make abortion a criminal act,” by making it state law that a fertilized egg is a human being. The embryo would be subject to protection from assault, reckless endangerment, and homicide whilst in the womb. While the bill includes exceptions for life-threatening conditions, in vitro fertilization, and emergency contraception, two doctors testified that the bill would complicate the treatment for women with ectopic pregnancies, fetuses who are found to have severe developmental problems, and in vitro fertilization.

    Although the measure exempts in vitro fertilization from criminal penalties, it includes language saying that “causing injury to a human being” is not justified.
    Dr. Stephanie Dahl, a Fargo infertility specialist who works at North Dakota’s only in vitro fertilization center, said the bill would make it illegal to do the procedure.
    “The process of IVF may result in injury to an embryo,” Dahl said. “It is unavoidable.”

    Not surprisingly, the bill is being pushed by Personhood USA.

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  • Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) have introduced a bill banning federal funding of abstinence-only programs. The “Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act” would strike the main source of funding for the programs, and instead fund $50 million a year of comprehensive sexuality education programs that include abstinence.

Mar 15