Roundup: TIME Analyzes Government Role in Abortion Access in Health Reform Proposals

Emily Douglas

TIME examines government's role in facilitating abortion access in health care reform proposals; medication abortion has not expanded access as expected; Australian provider refuses to prescribe RU-486 until legal protections are enacted.

TIME Examines Government Role in Abortion Funding in Health Reform Proposals
While
acknowledinging that President Obama’s claim that allegations that
health care reform will lead to government funding of abortion is "not
true" is accurate, TIME magazine claims that it does not "tell the
whole story."  TIME argues that health care reform will amount to
federal government intervention in broadinening abortion access, in
that it could create a public option that will cover abortion care:

The member dues, or premiums, to pay for expanded abortion coverage
would be segregated from the federal tax dollars by keeping the money
in separate internal accounts. The problem is that all those who sign
up for the public option would have to pay into the account for
abortion coverage, an amount "not less than $1 per month," according to
the legislation. So in effect, anyone who wanted to sign up for the
public option, a federally funded and administered program, would find
themselves paying for abortion coverage.

That
might be a change for the federal government, in that a public option
is a major scale-up of access to all health care and procedures. But
it’s how most private insurance has always worked.  As Guttmacher has found,
a very high percentage — 87% — of private, employer-based plans
already do cover abortion.  In other words, while the federal
government might be unfamiliar in facilitating access to surgeries, the
public at large is very familiar with having a small portion of their
premium costs going to cover abortion care.

Medication Abortion Has Not Significantly Expanded Access
Feministing
reports on new data from the Guttmacher Institute that medication
abortion has not expanded access to abortion care in ways that
advocates expected.  One significant reason is that advocates initially
hoped that providers who do not offer surgical abortion would provide
access to mifepristone, but that hasn’t happened:

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Most mifepristone abortions were performed at or near facilities that
also provided surgical abortion. Only five mifepristone-only providers
of 10 or more abortions were located farther than 50 miles from any
surgical provider of 400 or more abortions.

Becoming
a provider of mifepristone means far more than being willing to write
the prescription, Ann Friedman points out: doctors still need to
perform ultrasounds on women and be capable of performing a surgical
abortion as backup.

Australian Provider Refuses to Prescribe RU-486 Until Legal Protections Are Enacted

The
Queensland government has not clarified the legality of medication
abortion, Queensland provider Caroline De Costa says.  In fact, a
19-year-old girl and her partner face charges on allegations of
smuggling RU-486 into the country, reports ABC News Australia.  "Premier Anna Bligh says the update to the Criminal Code will happen
as soon as possible, but there is no plan to free up the law for more
abortions."

 

 

The member dues, or premiums, to pay for expanded abortion coverage
would be segregated from the federal tax dollars by keeping the money
in separate internal accounts. The problem is that all those who sign
up for the public option would have to pay into the account for
abortion coverage, an amount "not less than $1 per month," according to
the legislation. So in effect, anyone who wanted to sign up for the
public option, a federally funded and administered program, would find
themselves paying for abortion coverage.

That
might be a change for the federal government, in that a public option
is a major scale-up of access to all health care and procedures. But
it’s how most private insurance has always worked.  As Guttmacher has found,
a very high percentage — 87% — of private, employer-based plans
already do cover abortion.  In other words, while the federal
government might be unfamiliar in facilitating access to surgeries, the
public at large is very familiar with having a small portion of their
premium costs going to cover abortion care.

Medication Abortion Has Not Significantly Expanded Access
Feministing
reports on new data from the Guttmacher Institute that medication
abortion has not expanded access to abortion care in ways that
advocates expected.  One significant reason is that advocates initially
hoped that providers who do not offer surgical abortion would provide
access to mifepristone, but that hasn’t happened:

Most mifepristone abortions were performed at or near facilities that
also provided surgical abortion. Only five mifepristone-only providers
of 10 or more abortions were located farther than 50 miles from any
surgical provider of 400 or more abortions.

Becoming
a provider of mifepristone means far more than being willing to write
the prescription, Ann Friedman points out: doctors still need to
perform ultrasounds on women and be capable of performing a surgical
abortion as backup.

Australian Provider Refuses to Prescribe RU-486 Until Legal Protections Are Enacted

The
Queensland government has not clarified the legality of medication
abortion, Queensland provider Caroline De Costa says.  In fact, a
19-year-old girl and her partner face charges on allegations of
smuggling RU-486 into the country, reports ABC News Australia.  "Premier Anna Bligh says the update to the Criminal Code will happen
as soon as possible, but there is no plan to free up the law for more
abortions."
Other News to Note

August 24: Time: Abortion And Health Reform: A Real Issue

August 24: Charleston Gazette: Abortion foe brings skit to city street

August 24: LifeSiteNews: Local Catholic Bishops Fight Wisconsin Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

August 24: Optimum Population Blog: India’s rising population poses questions on stability

August 24: Naples News: Guest commentary: Independent clinics provide most abortions in U.S.

August 24: U.S. News & World Report: Rep. Tim Ryan: My Plan for Common Ground on Abortion

August 24: Science Progress: Autonomous Contraception

August 24: Psychiatric Times: “Abortion Trauma Syndrome”

August 24: Change.org Global Health: What Can We Learn from Abortion Access?

August 24: Sex Gender Body: INDONESIA: ‘Safe’ Abortion Could Put a Brake on Women’s Mortality Rates

August 24: Madison St.-Clair Record: Birth control pill ‘Yaz’ named in suit against Bayer, Walgreens

August 24: Private Healthcare UK: Limited choice of contraception could harm health of women

August 25: The Australian: More Queensland hospitals drop abortion

August 24: Courier-Journal: Abortion foe protests healthcare reform

August 24: Chronicle Live:Teens given right sexual health advice

August 24: Feminists for Choice: New Study Debunks “Abortion Trauma Syndrome”

August 24: In the News: The solutions to all your contraceptive concerns

August 24: Wichita Eagle: Free thinker was not well received in 1879

August 24: IoL: City takes on illegal abortion ‘doctors’

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

News Abortion

Parental Notification Law Struck Down in Alaska

Michelle D. Anderson

"The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions," said Janet Crepps, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm."

The Alaska Supreme Court has struck down a state law requiring physicians to give the parents, guardians, or custodians of teenage minors a two-day notice before performing an abortion.

The court ruled that the parental notification law, which applies to teenagers younger than 18, violated the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection guarantee and could not be enforced.

The ruling stems from an Anchorage Superior Court decision that involved the case of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands and physicians Dr. Jan Whitefield and Dr. Susan Lemagie against the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors.

In the lower court ruling, a judge denied Planned Parenthood’s requested preliminary injunction against the law as a whole and went on to uphold the majority of the notification law.

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Planned Parenthood and the physicians had appealed that superior court ruling and asked for a reversal on both equal protection and privacy grounds.

Meanwhile, the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors appealed the court’s decision to strike some of its provisions and the court’s ruling.

The notification law came about after an initiative approved by voters in August 2010. The law applied to “unemancipated, unmarried minors” younger than 18 seeking to terminate a pregnancy and only makes exceptions in documented cases of abuse and medical emergencies, such as one in which the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

Justice Daniel E. Winfree wrote in the majority opinion that the anti-choice law created “considerable tension between a minor’s fundamental privacy right to reproductive choice and how the State may advance its compelling interests.”

He said the law was discriminatory and that it could unjustifiably burden “the fundamental privacy rights only of minors seeking pregnancy termination, rather than [equally] to all pregnant minors.”

Chief Justice Craig Stowers dissented, arguing that the majority’s opinion “unjustifiably” departed from the Alaska Supreme Court’s prior approval of parental notification.

Stowers said the opinion “misapplies our equal protection case law by comparing two groups that are not similarly situated, and fails to consider how other states have handled similar questions related to parental notification laws.”

Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) officials praised the court’s ruling, saying that Alaska’s vulnerable teenagers will now be relieved of additional burdensome hurdles in accessing abortion care. Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, CRR, and Planned Parenthood represented plaintiffs in the case.

Janet Crepps, senior counsel at CRR, said in a statement that the “decision provides important protection to the safety and well-being of young women who need to end a pregnancy.”

“The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions. This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm,” Crepps said.

CRR officials also noted that most young women seeking abortion care involve a parent, but some do not because they live an abusive or unsafe home.

The American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine have said minors’ access to confidential reproductive health services should be protected, according to CRR.