Roundup: Massive Gender Gap in China

Emily Douglas

Indiana House passes TRAP law; massive gender gap in China; back story behind Vatican's snub of Caroline Kennedy; Obama a "recruiting drive" for anti-choice movement.

Indiana House Passes TRAP Law
The Indiana House passed a law that would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals, the reports
The bill would also require doctors to inform a patient before the
procedure that "the fetus might feel pain."  "Critics
argued it effectively could halt abortions in the state, because few
physicians performing abortions in the state have admitting privileges
at a hospital. It typically takes a doctor several months to get
admitting privileges, they argued, if a hospital chooses to grant them
at all."  Anti-choicers argue that the bill promotes patient safety,
while pro-choicers say requiring hospital admitting privileges will do
nothing to promote patient safety.

Massive Gender Gap in China
Discover magazine
rounds up reporting on the gender gap in China: currently, there are 32
million more boys than girls under the age of 20 in the country. 
"While Chinese officials have acknowledged that the country’s
"one-child" policy has led to a gender imbalance, the new study offers
the first hard data on the extent of the disparity. The
study included nearly five million people under the age of 20 and
covered every county in China. It found that overall ratios of boys
were high everywhere, but were most striking among the younger age
group of 1-4 years, and in rural areas, where it peaked at 126 boys for
every 100 girls."

Back Story Behind Vatican’s Snub of Caroline Kennedy
We all know that the Vatican snubbed Caroline Kennedy as ambassador because of her pro-choice views.  On Comment Is Free, Sarah Posner gives us the back story:

But the flap over Obama’s appointments is more about American electoral politics than it is about church doctrine.

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"religious" voters have been increasingly portrayed as the pivotal
electoral prize of presidential campaigns, in Obama’s victory Catholics
took front and center. Although Obama worked hard to attract white
evangelicals, their movement into the Democratic column was miniscule.
In comparison, a higher percentage of Catholics voted for Obama than
had voted for Democrat (and Catholic) John Kerry in 2004.

Posner explains that Obama’s popularity among Catholics highlights the Pope’s relative lack of influence over American Catholics. 

Obama a "Recruiting Drive" for Anti-Choice Movement
Politico reports that Obama’s first months in office have acted as a recruiting drive for the anti-choice movement.  Many of the largest anti-choice groups have seen an uptick in membership and online activism.

Obama’s first 84 days in office have been like an extended recruiting
drive for the anti-abortion movement, reinvigorating a constituency he
sought to neutralize during the campaign. Activists report a noticeable
spike in activity as Obama moves to defend and expand a woman’s right
to choose an abortion – causing anti-abortion voters to mobilize in
ways never needed during the Bush administration…

The series of decisions started with Obama’s move soon after taking
office to lift federal funding restrictions on overseas family planning
groups. Later, he moved to repeal Bush-era conscience protections for
medical professionals. And his stem-cell decision angered groups that
consider it tantamount to ending a human life, because the embryos must
be destroyed to retrieve the cells. 

But his personnel moves also have caused alarm. Health and Human
Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius fought attempts to dial back
abortion rights as Kansas governor. Obama’s communications director
Ellen Moran previously ran EMILY’s List, which backed women candidates
who supported abortion rights. Obama’s pick to run the powerful Office
of Legal Counsel inside the Justice Department, Dawn Johnsen, was
previously legal director for the National Abortion and Reproductive
Rights Action League in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

News Health Systems

Complaint: Citing Catholic Rules, Doctor Turns Away Bleeding Woman With Dislodged IUD

Amy Littlefield

“It felt heartbreaking,” said Melanie Jones. “It felt like they were telling me that I had done something wrong, that I had made a mistake and therefore they were not going to help me; that they stigmatized me, saying that I was doing something wrong, when I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m doing something that’s well within my legal rights.”

Melanie Jones arrived for her doctor’s appointment bleeding and in pain. Jones, 28, who lives in the Chicago area, had slipped in her bathroom, and suspected the fall had dislodged her copper intrauterine device (IUD).

Her doctor confirmed the IUD was dislodged and had to be removed. But the doctor said she would be unable to remove the IUD, citing Catholic restrictions followed by Mercy Hospital and Medical Center and providers within its system.

“I think my first feeling was shock,” Jones told Rewire in an interview. “I thought that eventually they were going to recognize that my health was the top priority.”

The doctor left Jones to confer with colleagues, before returning to confirm that her “hands [were] tied,” according to two complaints filed by the ACLU of Illinois. Not only could she not help her, the doctor said, but no one in Jones’ health insurance network could remove the IUD, because all of them followed similar restrictions. Mercy, like many Catholic providers, follows directives issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that restrict access to an array of services, including abortion care, tubal ligations, and contraception.

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Some Catholic providers may get around the rules by purporting to prescribe hormonal contraception for acne or heavy periods, rather than for birth control, but in the case of copper IUDs, there is no such pretext available.

“She told Ms. Jones that that process [of switching networks] would take her a month, and that she should feel fortunate because sometimes switching networks takes up to six months or even a year,” the ACLU of Illinois wrote in a pair of complaints filed in late June.

Jones hadn’t even realized her health-care network was Catholic.

Mercy has about nine off-site locations in the Chicago area, including the Dearborn Station office Jones visited, said Eric Rhodes, senior vice president of administrative and professional services. It is part of Trinity Health, one of the largest Catholic health systems in the country.

The ACLU and ACLU of Michigan sued Trinity last year for its “repeated and systematic failure to provide women suffering pregnancy complications with appropriate emergency abortions as required by federal law.” The lawsuit was dismissed but the ACLU has asked for reconsideration.

In a written statement to Rewire, Mercy said, “Generally, our protocol in caring for a woman with a dislodged or troublesome IUD is to offer to remove it.”

Rhodes said Mercy was reviewing its education process on Catholic directives for physicians and residents.

“That act [of removing an IUD] in itself does not violate the directives,” Marty Folan, Mercy’s director of mission integration, told Rewire.

The number of acute care hospitals that are Catholic owned or affiliated has grown by 22 percent over the past 15 years, according to MergerWatch, with one in every six acute care hospital beds now in a Catholic owned or affiliated facility. Women in such hospitals have been turned away while miscarrying and denied tubal ligations.

“We think that people should be aware that they may face limitations on the kind of care they can receive when they go to the doctor based on religious restrictions,” said Lorie Chaiten, director of the women’s and reproductive rights project of the ACLU of Illinois, in a phone interview with Rewire. “It’s really important that the public understand that this is going on and it is going on in a widespread fashion so that people can take whatever steps they need to do to protect themselves.”

Jones left her doctor’s office, still in pain and bleeding. Her options were limited. She couldn’t afford a $1,000 trip to the emergency room, and an urgent care facility was out of the question since her Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois insurance policy would only cover treatment within her network—and she had just been told that her entire network followed Catholic restrictions.

Jones, on the advice of a friend, contacted the ACLU of Illinois. Attorneys there advised Jones to call her insurance company and demand they expedite her network change. After five hours of phone calls, Jones was able to see a doctor who removed her IUD, five days after her initial appointment and almost two weeks after she fell in the bathroom.

Before the IUD was removed, Jones suffered from cramps she compared to those she felt after the IUD was first placed, severe enough that she medicated herself to cope with the pain.

She experienced another feeling after being turned away: stigma.

“It felt heartbreaking,” Jones told Rewire. “It felt like they were telling me that I had done something wrong, that I had made a mistake and therefore they were not going to help me; that they stigmatized me, saying that I was doing something wrong, when I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m doing something that’s well within my legal rights.”

The ACLU of Illinois has filed two complaints in Jones’ case: one before the Illinois Department of Human Rights and another with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights under the anti-discrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act. Chaiten said it’s clear Jones was discriminated against because of her gender.

“We don’t know what Mercy’s policies are, but I would find it hard to believe that if there were a man who was suffering complications from a vasectomy and came to the emergency room, that they would turn him away,” Chaiten said. “This the equivalent of that, right, this is a woman who had an IUD, and because they couldn’t pretend the purpose of the IUD was something other than pregnancy prevention, they told her, ‘We can’t help you.’”

Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: The Fight Over Voter ID Laws Heats Up in the Courts

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

Texas and North Carolina both have cases that could bring the constitutionality of Voter ID laws back before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this term.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the state’s voter ID law.

Meanwhile, according to Politifact, North Carolina attorney general and gubernatorial challenger Roy Cooper is actually saving taxpayers money by refusing to appeal the Fourth Circuit’s ruling on the state’s voter ID law, so Gov. Pat McCrory (R) should stop complaining about it.

And in other North Carolina news, Ian Millhiser writes that the state has hired high-powered conservative attorney Paul Clement to defend its indefensible voter ID law.

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Alex Thompson writes in Vice that the Zika virus is about to hit states with the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. So if you’re pregnant, stay away. No one has yet offered advice for those pregnant people who can’t leave Zika-prone areas.

Robin Marty writes on Care2 about Americans United for Life’s (AUL) latest Mad Lib-style model bill, the “National Abortion Data Reporting Law.” Attacking abortion rights: It’s what AUL does.

The Washington Post profiled Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Given this Congress, that will likely spur another round of hearings. (It did get a response from Richards herself.)

Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson writes in Bloomberg BNA that Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan thinks the Supreme Court’s clarification of the undue burden standard in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will have ramifications for voting rights cases.

This must-read New York Times piece reminds us that we still have a long way to go in accommodating breastfeeding parents on the job.


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