Roundup: Spanish Panel Recommends Liberalization of Abortion Law

Emily Douglas

Spanish panel recommends liberalization of abortion law; "fetal pain" bill moves forward in Utah; Houston Chronicle calls for comprehensive sex ed; what the Vitter amendment would do; "confusing patchwork of regulation" in wake of octuplet birth; budget "undermines parental control"?

Spanish Panel Recommends Liberalization of Abortion Law
A Spanish "government-appointed" panel has recommended that the country liberalize its abortion laws, the AP reports.  "The current law allows abortion up to 12 weeks in cases of rape and 22 weeks in cases of fetal malformation. It allows abortion at any stage if a doctor certifies a woman’s physical or mental health is at risk.  Abortion
would be allowed on demand up to 14 weeks, and up to 22 weeks if a
doctor certifies a serious threat to the health of the mother or
malformation of the fetus."

"Fetal Pain" Bill Moves Forward in Utah
A bill to require doctors to tell women having late-term abortions the
fetus will feel pain has passed a preliminary vote in the Utah Senate, KCPW reports.  "The bill is based on research indicating fetuses can feel pain, but the
finding is not universally accepted by the medical community. In fact,
several medical groups oppose the bill, saying that administering
anesthesia to a fetus can increase the risk of life-threatening
complications for the mother."  KCPW adds, "Two other abortion bills have already been approved by the Utah
Legislature this year. They include an increased penalty for physicians
who perform illegal late-term abortions, and the creation of a fund to
pay for litigation costs of future challenges to Roe v. Wade."

Houston Chronicle Calls for Comprehensive Sex Ed

A Houston Chronicle editorial
points out that "Texas receives far more federal funding for abstinence
education than
any other state, yet in the latest government survey, it ranks third
highest in the nation in teen birth rates."  As such, the Chronicle
supports the efforts of two Texas lawmakers to pass legislation that
would offer students access to medically-accurate sexuality education. 
"The proposed measure
will not require public schools to teach sex education. (It is not
currently mandated.) But it will require those districts that do so to
provide complete and medically accurate information.  Parents can opt out of
the course, and the measure would require schools teaching sex
education to stress that abstinence is the only absolutely effective
way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, while also
giving instruction on contraception and disease prevention."

What the Vitter Amendment Would Do

What happens when you
defund the largest provider of family planning services, just because
they provide comprehensive reproductive health care?  Access to
services goes down — and if there aren’t competent clinics who can use
the funds, there’s a de facto decrease in funding.  The Weekly Standard claims that Sen. David Vitter’s amendment to the omnibus to prevent family planning funding going to Planned Parenthood wouldn’t actually decrease funding for family planning.  Effectively, there’s wrong.  And let’s
take a step back.  What possible justification could there be for
Vitter’s amendment?  Planned Parenthood provides legal services, and
does so competently.  He wants to defund them just because he doesn’t like them?

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"Confusing Patchwork of Regulations" in Wake of Octuplet Birth
The LA Times reports
that state legislature are showing interest in regulating IVF in the
wake of the octuplets’ birth to California mother Nadya Suleman, which
could result in a "confusing patchwork of regulations."  A Georgia bill
"called ‘The Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act,’
defines an embryo as a "biological human being" and prohibits the
destruction of frozen embryos — wading into a loaded debate over
abortion rights and embryonic stem cells."  The Times points out that states can use IVF regulation as cover to enact conservative, anti-choice state law.

Budget "Undermines Parental Control"?
The GOP has ten talking points on Obama’s budget for you.  Here’s number 7: The budget "Undermines Parental Control. 
A proposed expansion of family planning programs through Medicaid would
permit children of any income level to qualify for family planning
services without parental approval."  With help from the Constitutional Law Professors Blog, we just debunked this talking point yesterday!  I quote again:

Legislators on these topics (and parents) may wish to believe that a
person’s constitutional rights begin when that person reaches the age
of majority.  This is simply not true.  Minors have a First Amendment right to engage in free speech.  Minors have a Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches
on school grounds.  The Supreme Court decided that since minors do
possess Constitutional rights in these areas, it would be unfair and
inconsistent to hold that minors do not have a right to privacy under
the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

"Much Work to Be Done" on Rescinding of Conscience Rule
On the Hill’s Congress Blog,
National Reproductive Health and Family Planning Association’s Mary
Jane Gallagher applauds the administration’s move to rescind the HHS
provider conscience expansion, but notes that "there is still much more
work to be done."  "Already conservative ideologues – who claim to
oppose abortion but who
refuse to support common-sense, common-ground solutions like family
planning, which helps prevent unintended pregnancy and thus reduces the
need for abortion – are in an uproar about the move to rescind this
The White House’s next step is to publish a new notice of proposed
rulemaking rescinding the Bush rule in the Federal Register, and to
accept comments from ‘people across the ideological spectrum’ during a
30-day public comment period."  That means family planning advocates need to stay vocal, Gallagher says.

Physician Education on EC Needed
A Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia study
finds that when physicians are better educated about emergency
contraception, the frequency with which they offer it to patients
increases.  For example, "Almost 20 percent of the doctors surveyed
incorrectly answered that
ECPs had to be administered within 24 hours of unprotected sex, when in
fact the drug is effective for up to five days. This misinformation may
lead to fewer prescriptions, the authors said…The five biggest concerns cited by the doctors
participating in the internet-based survey were lack of patient
follow-up after receiving the first dose; time constraints during the
hospital visit to properly discuss ECP use; lack of clinical resources;
a belief ECP discourages regular contraceptive use, and concerns about
birth defects, according to the study."

Other News to Note
March 5: KETV: Abortion Bill Sparks Heated Debate: Measure Requires Doctors To Show Ultrasound Images

March 5: Boston Globe: State urged to delay decision on Caritas: Similar program in N.Y. has flaws, rights groups say

March 5: WaPo: Finding Peace in the Culture Wars

March 5: CNA: Obama’s pro-life backers risk usurping bishops, critic says

March 5: CNA: Pro-life experts ask Obama not to push abortion in Latin America

March 5: Birth-control shot linked to weight gain

March 5: Petition site:Don’t Let the Senate Block Family-Planning Programs!

March 4: 40 Days for Choice: Why is Affordable Birth Control important

March 5: Opposing Views: OPINION: Pro-Choice Catholics are ‘Contaminated,’ Harm Church (Judie Brown)

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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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