Roundup: Sen. Nelson Still Wants His Way on Health Care Bill

Rachel Larris

This morning it seems if Senator Ben Nelson doesn't get his way on the issue of abortion coverage in the final health care reform bill he might sandbag the whole effort.

This morning it seems if Senator Ben Nelson doesn’t
get his way on the issue of abortion coverage in the final health care reform
bill he might sandbag the whole effort.

While Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., was first seen
as the Democrats’ biggest obstacle, news reports today put him closer to being
mollified
by a "compromise" bill that does not include either a public
option, or a trigger, or a Medicare buy-in.

Sen. Joseph I.
Lieberman (I-Conn.), once a critic of the legislation, appeared to be warming
to the $848 billion package after Senate leaders said they were ready to
jettison a plan to extend Medicare coverage to uninsured people as young as 55,
an idea Lieberman denounced over the weekend. He said Tuesday that he expects
to support the bill if that provision is dropped.

That potentially leaves the senator from
Nebraska as the sole remaining Democrat who has threatened to join the
Republican filibuster against the final passage of the health care reform bill.
His main objection is the rejected attempt to ensure that any
health insurance purchased in the newly created "exchanges" would not cover
abortion services.

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That would leave Sen.
Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) as the only known holdout among the 60 lawmakers who caucus
with Democrats. Senate leaders and White House officials were working hard
Tuesday to convert the former Nebraska insurance commissioner, who has said he
will not support the measure unless it bars the use of public money for
abortion.

Meanwhile Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who
supported Sen. Nelson’s failed amendment, seems to be signaling he may stand
with the Democratic majority against a Republican filibuster, even if the final
bill does not include the Nelson-Hatch amendment. Or at least, unlike Nelson,
he’s not yet threatening
to join the filibuster
unless he gets his way.

Casey’s office has
released a statement noting that the senator voted for the Nelson amendment and
that he is continuing to work on the issue with Democratic leaders.

"Senator Casey has
been an outspoken advocate for passing health insurance reform to provide
quality coverage for tens of millions of Americans by increasing access to care
and providing more security and stability for Americans worried about paying
health care bills or losing coverage if they lose their job," the
statement read.

"He also believes
that this bill presents a unique opportunity to provide new and critical
support for pregnant women. Too many women face pregnancy frightened and alone.
No woman should have to walk that road alone. That is why he has introduced two
amendments to help ensure that pregnant women have additional support and
assistance to properly care for herself and her child. He believes there is bipartisan
agreement for providing this kind of affirmative assistance to pregnant
women."

In other news the Pew Internet
& American Life Project
released a study that found 1 in 6 teens report
have received a sexually suggestive, nude or nearly nude picture via cell phone,
a phenomenon otherwise known as "sexting."

The 800-person survey,
released Tuesday by the nonprofit research group, found 15 percent of
cell-phone-owning teens ages 12 to 17 had received nude or nearly nude photos
by phone. Four percent of the teens said they had sent out sexually explicit photos
or videos of themselves.

Older teens were more
likely to send sexual images through text messages than younger teens. Four
percent of 12-year-olds reported sending sexually suggestive images by text
message, while 8 percent of 17-year-olds reported texting nude or partially
nude photos.

The act of teens sending or receiving sexual-explicit
pictures by other teens has been causing many states to consider modify child
pornography laws, which otherwise can have states prosecuting teenagers for
child pornography. However the Virginia State Crime Commission refused Tuesday to recommend
legislation concerning sexting
.

This year, lawmakers in
at least 11 states introduced legislation aimed at sexting. Six states passed
laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Mini-international roundup: India is considering
changing its adoption rules to allow women
to adopt
if they are living separately from their spouse (but not
divorced). The Gates Foundation is giving $22.9
million
to increase contraceptive use in Kenya.

Bonus item: A woman
writes a letter-to-the-editor on the emotional pain of giving birth to an anencephalic
baby
, in an era before ultrasounds.

12/16

Pro-choice vs.
pro-life: No end in sight
Sioux City Journal

Obama
Has Only 59 Votes for Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill as He Meets
Democrats
LifeNews.com

Lowden’s
evolving views on abortion
Las Vegas Sun

 

12/15

Copenhagen
Agreement = Population control
Auburn Journal

Political
failings and embryo case
Irish Times

Adoption
norms may become easier for women
Times of India

Pro-Life
Activists Warn Senators Casey and Nelson …
Christian News Wire

Pro-life
attorney stymied in attempt to practice his profession
OneNewsNow

Pro-Life
Action League Goes Christmas Caroling at Chicago-Area Abortion Facilities
Christian News Wire

Texas
Governor Hopeful Kay Bailey Hutchison Under Fire for Missing Pro-Life
Vote
LifeNews.com

The
Catholic case against health-care reform
Catholic Culture

Permissive
Abortion
Laws May Be Hazardous To Mothers’ Health
Catholic Exchange

Are
Pro-Abortion-Rights
Catholic Groups Fake?
U.S. News & World Report

The
Health Battles That Won’t Die: Lieberman, Taxes, Abortion

Politics Daily

Obama,
Democrats Threaten Ben Nelson to Back Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill
LifeNews.com

Abortion
report out-dated – Northland Health

Radio New Zealand

Abortion
remains issue in health care debate

USA Today

District
of Columbia Officials Ready to Pay for Abortions Once Obama Signs Bill
LifeNews.com

Today’s
odds and ends on health care
msnbc.com

Baltimore-based
health organization to improve contraceptive use in Kenya
Baltimore Sun

Milwaukee
Archbishop: You Can’t Call Yourself Catholic and Support Contraception
Lifesite

Should
sale of emergency contraceptives be restricted?
Daily News & Analysis

News Law and Policy

California Lawmakers Take Action Against Rampant Wage Theft

Nicole Knight

A survey of people who work for low wages found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the "wage theft capital of the country."

Los Angeles has earned the distinction as the country’s wage theft capital, but a new California law is tackling the rampant problem of wage theft with new enforcement tools.

The law, SB 1342, signed last month by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), gives city and county authorities subpoena powers when investigating wage violations. Until now, the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement was the primary agency charged with investigating wage theft cases.

State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) authored the legislation to “ensure that our low-wage workers, who already face many challenges, receive the pay that they have earned,” Mendoza wrote in an Orange County Breeze op-ed.

Wage theft is the illegal practice of failing to pay overtime and minimum wages, denying lunch breaks, or forcing employees to work off the clock. A survey of people who work for low wages by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the “wage theft capital of the country.”

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Some 654,914 workers in L.A. County are subjected to at least one pay-based violation in any given week, researchers noted.

Most people who work low-wage jobs in L.A. were born outside the United States, and the majority are Latino (73.4 percent), Asian (17.9 percent), or Black (6.3 percent), researchers found.

Wage theft is not only illegal, it contributes to food insecurity and housing instability in low-income families, Mendoza noted.

“This bill protects hard-working Californians by clarifying the ability of cities and counties to investigate non-compliance with local wage laws,” Mendoza said.

A legislative analysis of SB 1342 cited research noting that minimum wage violations are rampant in industries such as garment manufacturing, domestic service, building services, and department stores, where wages are low.

The measure comes as states and cities are increasing minimum wages as lawmakers in Congress have refused to consider raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Brown in April signed a law lifting the statewide minimum pay rate to $15 per hour by 2022. More than a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, have proposed or enacted $15 minimum wage rates, according to the National Employment Law Project.

News Abortion

Study: Telemedicine Abortion Care a Boon for Rural Patients

Nicole Knight

Despite the benefits of abortion care via telemedicine, 18 states have effectively banned the practice by requiring a doctor to be physically present.

Patients are seen sooner and closer to home in clinics where medication abortion is offered through a videoconferencing system, according to a new survey of Alaskan providers.

The results, which will be published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, suggest that the secure and private technology, known as telemedicine, gives patients—including those in rural areas with limited access—greater choices in abortion care.

The qualitative survey builds on research that found administering medication abortion via telemedicine was as safe and effective as when a doctor administers the abortion-inducing medicine in person, study researchers said.

“This study reinforces that medication abortion provided via telemedicine is an important option for women, particularly in rural areas,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, one of the authors of the study and professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). “In Iowa, its introduction was associated with a reduction in second-trimester abortion.”

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Maine and Minnesota also provide medication abortion via telemedicine. Clinics in four states—New York, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington—are running pilot studies, as the Guardian reported. Despite the benefits of abortion care via telemedicine, 18 states have effectively banned the practice by requiring a doctor to be physically present.

The researchers noted that even “greater gains could be made by providing [medication abortion] directly to women in their homes,” which U.S. product labeling doesn’t allow.

In late 2013, researchers with Ibis Reproductive Health and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health interviewed providers, such as doctors, nurses, and counselors, in clinics run by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands that were using telemedicine to provide medication abortion. Providers reported telemedicine’s greatest benefit was to pregnant people. Clinics could schedule more appointments and at better hours for patients, allowing more to be seen earlier in pregnancy.

Nearly twenty-one percent of patients nationwide end their pregnancies with medication abortion, a safe and effective two-pill regime, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alaska began offering the abortion-inducing drugs through telemedicine in 2011. Patients arrive at a clinic, where they go through a health screening, have an ultrasound, and undergo informed consent procedures. A doctor then remotely reviews the patients records and answers questions via a videoconferencing link, before instructing the patient on how to take the medication.

Before 2011, patients wanting abortion care had to fly to Anchorage or Seattle, or wait for a doctor who flew into Fairbanks twice a month, according to the study’s authors.

Beyond a shortage of doctors, patients in Alaska must contend with vast geography and extreme weather, as one physician told researchers:

“It’s negative seven outside right now. So in a setting like that, [telemedicine is] just absolutely the best possible thing that you could do for a patient. … Access to providers is just so limited. And … just because you’re in a state like that doesn’t mean that women aren’t still as much needing access to these services.”

“Our results were in line with other research that has shown that this service can be easily integrated into other health care offered at a clinic, can help women access the services they want and need closer to home, and allows providers to offer high-level care to women from a distance,” Kate Grindlay, lead author on the study and associate at Ibis Reproductive Health, said in a statement.

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