Roundup: Neither Forced Sterilization Nor Forced Birth

Rachel Larris

The common thread in this morning's roundup is that women should be allowed to be the final decisionmakers of whether they have children. That is true whether they want more children or don't want any.

The common thread in this morning’s roundup is that women should be allowed to be the final decisionmakers of whether they have children. That is true whether they want to give birth or don’t.

It can be a good thing when a country that normal doesn’t
discuss abortion wants to bring the issue out into the open. But not if the
point is to drive an already illegal procedure even more underground.

South Korea has long made abortion illegal but has rarely
meted out punishment for obtaining or providing one. Now two South Korean
doctors are trying to start a morality campaign to push the country’s
government into enforcing
the laws banning abortion.

In a country where abortion is both
widespread and, with few exceptions, against the law, Dr. Choi and Dr. Shim are
hoping to force South Korea’s first serious public discussion of the ethics of
the procedure. In November, they and dozens of other obstetricians held a news
conference to ask "forgiveness" for having performed illegal abortions.

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The group they formed, Gynob, has
called on other doctors to declare whether they have performed illegal
abortions. In December they set up another organization, Pro-Life Doctors,
which tries to discourage women from having abortions and runs a hot line to
report clinics that perform them illegally. This month, they plan to begin
reporting practitioners of such abortions to the police.

While Gynob’s primary tactic has
been to highlight the hypocrisy of having a law that is almost never enforced,
the group’s goal is not to resolve this by liberalizing the law but to end
abortions altogether.

Meanwhile in Spain, which recently
made moves
to grant women greater access to abortion, the Spanish Bishops’
Conference repeated their stance that no Catholic
politician can support abortion
.

The press director for the Spanish
Bishops’ Conference, Isidro Catela Marcos, has written a letter on behalf of
the bishops reiterating that Catholic politicians cannot support abortion. The
letter comes in response to pro-choice statements made by a Catholic who is
head of Spain’s Congress, Jose Bono.

The Spanish Senate is still debating a bill that would allow
women to obtain an abortion without restrictions up to 14 weeks.

In Other News

In America a mother of nine children is suing a Springfield,
Massachusetts hospital claiming she was sterilized
against her will.

Tessa Savicki, who has nine
children aged 3 to 21, claims doctors were supposed to implant an intrauterine
device, which is a type of reversible birth control, after she delivered a son,
Manuel Flores, on Dec. 19, 2006, at Baystate Medical Center.

Instead, she said, a type of
permanent sterilization known as a tubal ligation was performed, leaving her
mentally distraught and incapable of bearing more children.

The hospital is not commenting other than to say as they
cannot find any consent forms signed by Savicki agreeing to the procedure.
Although the story contains one oddity , Savicki said she brought
her own IUD into the operating room.

Jane Albert, a spokeswoman for
Baystate Health, declined to comment on the lawsuit or Savicki’s own medical
care, citing federal privacy regulations.

But speaking in general terms, it
is "absolutely not" normal procedure for a woman to carry her own IUD
into the operating room, Albert said.

"It is not our practice for a
patient, it is not our practice to insert an IUD into a woman who has just had
a C-section," Albert said.

Bonus item: Scott
Roeder, on trial for killing Dr. George Tiller, has subpoenaed
Phil Kline
to testify in his defense. Kline is the former Kansas attorney general
who prosecuted the case against Dr. Tiller last spring where he was acquitted on
all 19 charges
.

 

January
6, 2009

Catholics cannot support abortion,
Spanish bishops reiterate
Catholic News
Agency

Emergency Contraception
Sales Surge In India
Medical News Today

Adoption agency helps place children with HIV Chicago Tribune

Computer glitch puts birth control
Rx on hold
San Francisco Chronicle

Pro-life Advocates Plan Rally to Protest Opening of Largest
Abortion Clinic in US
CNSNews.com

Brits Offended By Heidi Fleiss’s
Pro-Abortion Comments
Jezebel

January
5, 2009

South Korea Confronts Open Secret
of Abortion
New York Times

Mother of Nine Sues Massachusetts
Hospital After Unauthorized Sterilization
ABC
News

Editorial: What matters most
Business Mirror

DeLauro: Full Speed Ahead To Health
Care Reform
TPMDC

Has U.S. adoption changed for the
better? | Adoption Blog
Adoption
Information and Laws

Diapers, bottles and more!
Lake Wylie Pilot

New archbishop gets down to
business
OnMilwaukee.com

There’s No Place Like Home
Center For American Progress

New Catholic bishop takes over in
Milwaukee
USA Today

Groundbreaking Book Examines
Viability of Pro-Life Movement as New Decade Begins
Christian News Wire (press release)

Why the Our Father is a Pro-life
Prayer, Part 1
Catholic Exchange

Christian Group: Pro-Life
Advocates Faced Attacks, Discrimination in 2009
LifeNews.com

South Korean Doctors Organize Pro-Life
Groups to Discourage Rampant Abortion
Lifesite

Congress to Tackle Concerns Over
Cost, Abortion
FOX News

Evangelicals: Abortion,
Moral Relativism Tops Moral Issues List
Christian
Post

Pro-Life Groups: Contact Congress
in Person to Stop Abortion in Health Care
LifeNews.com

Pelosi: My Pro-Abortion
Stance is Consistent with Catholic Faith
Catholic Exchange

Democrats Facing Backlash for
Hiding Talks on Pro-Abortion Health Care
LifeNews.com

Scalia Defends Gay, Abortion,
Gun Rulings at First Baptist
Jackson
Free Press

Heidi Fleiss Thanks God For Abortion
Huffington Post

Brown, Coakley spar over taxes, abortion,
health care
NECN

Keep Health Care Debate Open and Abortion-Free
Beliefnet.com

Obama Meets With Democrats to Map
Strategy for Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill
LifeNews.com

Abortion and men Salt Lake
Tribune

Abortion funding fiight far from over Washington Times

Rates of sexually transmitted
diseases among teens reaching epidemic levels
Capital Times

News Abortion

Study: United States a ‘Stark Outlier’ in Countries With Legal Abortion, Thanks to Hyde Amendment

Nicole Knight Shine

The study's lead author said the United States' public-funding restriction makes it a "stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations."

The vast majority of countries pay for abortion care, making the United States a global outlier and putting it on par with the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and a handful of Balkan States, a new study in the journal Contraception finds.

A team of researchers conducted two rounds of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries where abortion care is legal. They found that 59 countries, or 74 percent of those surveyed, either fully or partially cover terminations using public funding. The United States was one of only ten countries that limits federal funding for abortion care to exceptional cases, such as rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Among the 40 “high-income” countries included in the survey, 31 provided full or partial funding for abortion care—something the United States does not do.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California (UC) San Francisco, said in a statement announcing the findings that this country’s public-funding restriction makes it a “stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations.”

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The researchers call on policymakers to make affordable health care a priority.

The federal Hyde Amendment (first passed in 1976 and reauthorized every year thereafter) bans the use of federal dollars for abortion care, except for cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Seventeen states, as the researchers note, bridge this gap by spending state money on terminations for low-income residents. Of the 14.1 million women enrolled in Medicaid, fewer than half, or 6.7 million, live in states that cover abortion services with state funds.

This funding gap delays abortion care for some people with limited means, who need time to raise money for the procedure, researchers note.

As Jamila Taylor and Yamani Hernandez wrote last year for Rewire, “We have heard first-person accounts of low-income women selling their belongings, going hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risking eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion, because of the Hyde Amendment.”

Public insurance coverage of abortion remains controversial in the United States despite “evidence that cost may create a barrier to access,” the authors observe.

“Women in the US, including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services,” Grossman said in the statement. “This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care.”

Earlier research indicated that U.S. women attempting to self-induce abortion cited high cost as a reason.

The team of ANSIRH researchers and Ibis Reproductive Health uncovered a bit of good news, finding that some countries are loosening abortion laws and paying for the procedures.

“Uruguay, as well as Mexico City,” as co-author Kate Grindlay from Ibis Reproductive Health noted in a press release, “legalized abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance.”

News Abortion

Anti-Choice Legislator Confirms Vote on House Conscience Protections (Updated)

Christine Grimaldi

The Conscience Protection Act would give health-care providers a private right of action to seek civil damages in court, should they face supposed coercion to provide abortion care or discrimination stemming from their refusal to assist in abortion care. The Act allows providers to sue not only for threats, but also for perceived threats.

UPDATE: July 14, 10 a.m.: The House passed the Conscience Protection Act Wednesday night in a largely party line 245-182 vote. Prior to floor consideration, House Republicans stripped the text of an unrelated Senate-passed bill (S. 304) and replaced it with the Conscience Protection Act. They likely did so to skip the Senate committee referral process, House Democratic aides told Rewire, expediting consideration across the capitol and, in theory, ushering a final bill to the president’s desk. President Barack Obama, however, would veto the Conscience Protection Act, according to a statement of administration policy.

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote next Wednesday on legislation that would allow a broadened swath of health-care providers to sue if they’re supposedly coerced into providing abortion care, or if they face discrimination for refusing to provide such care, according to a prominent anti-choice lawmaker.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) told Rewire in a Friday morning interview that House leadership confirmed a vote on the Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 4828) for July 13, days before the chamber adjourns for the presidential nominating conventions and the August recess. Pitts said he expects the bill to be brought up as a standalone measure, rather than as an amendment to any of the spending bills that have seen Republican amendments attacking a range of reproductive health care and LGBTQ protections.

The office of U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had no immediate comment.

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Pitts’ remarks came during and after he hosted a “Forum on Conscience Protections” in the House Energy and Commerce Committee room to garner support for the bill.

Energy and Commerce Democrats boycotted the forum, a House Democratic aide told Rewire in a subsequent interview.

Legislation Builds on Precedent

Conscience protections are nothing new, the aide said. The latest iteration is a successor to the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (S. 1919/H.R. 940), which remains pending in the House and U.S. Senate. There’s also the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (S. 50) and similarly named bills in both chambers. The fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health, and Human Services funding bill, which guts Title X and Teen Pregnancy Prevention grants, includes the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.

At the leadership level, Ryan’s recently released health-care plan mimics key provisions in the Conscience Protection Act. Both would give health-care providers a private right of action to seek civil damages in court, should they face alleged coercion or discrimination stemming from their refusal to assist in abortion care. The Conscience Protection Act goes a step further, allowing providers to sue not only for threats, but also for perceived threats.

The proposals would also codify and expand the Weldon Amendment, named for former Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), who participated in Pitts’ conscience forum. The Weldon Amendment prohibits states that receive federal family planning funding from discriminating against health-care plans based on whether they cover abortion care. Currently, Congress must pass Weldon every year as an amendment to annual appropriations bills.

Administration Action Provides Impetus

There hadn’t been much public dialogue around conscience protections with the exception of some anti-choice groups that “have really been all over it,” the aide said. The National Right to Life issued an action alert, as did the Susan B. Anthony List, to galvanize support for the Conscience Protection Act.

The relative silence on the issue began to break after the Obama administration took a stand on abortion care in June.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights rejected anti-choice groups’ “right of conscience” complaint against California’s requirement that insurance plans must cover elective abortions under the definition of “basic health-care services.” Anti-choice groups had argued the California law violates the Weldon Amendment, but the administration found otherwise.

The California decision reinvigorated support for the Conscience Protection Act, the aide said. Ryan’s earlier health-care plan also specifically references the decision.

“We think this is going to be a big issue for us throughout the rest of this Congress,” the aide said.

Aide Outlines Additional Consequences

Beyond creating a private right of action and codifying Weldon, the Conscience Protection Act contains additional consequences for abortion care, the aide said.

The legislation would expand the definition of health-care providers to employers, social service organizations, and any other entity that offers insurance coverage, allowing them to raise objections under Weldon, the aide said. The aide characterized the change as a direct response to the California decision.

The legislation also broadens the list of objectionable services to include facilitating or making arrangements for abortion care, according to the aide.

The Republican-dominated House is likely to pass the Conscience Protection Act. But the aide did not expect it to advance in the Senate, which would all but certainly require a 60-vote threshold for such a controversial measure. More than anything, the aide said, the bill seems to be catering to anti-choice groups and long-time proponents of conscience clauses.

“The House oftentimes will pass these kinds of anti-choice proposals, and then they just go nowhere in the Senate,” the aide said.