Roundup: The Good and Bad Work Done In the States

Rachel Larris

This morning's roundup is about state legislation and some of good and bad bills currently being debated in statehouses around the country.

This morning’s roundup is about state legislation and some
of the bills currently being discussed around the country. Let’s start with
some good news.

In Wisconsin, state legislators have just passed a bill
requiring the schools that provide sex education to include
information about birth control.

All public schools that teach sex
education would be required to instruct students about birth control and
sexually transmitted diseases, under a bill headed to Gov. Jim Doyle.

The Democratic governor said
Thursday he would sign the bill, which all Republicans opposed.

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It’s unclear how many school
districts would have to change their curriculum, but the West Allis-West
Milwaukee School District would have to end an abstinence-only program it

The bill was passed because of the Democratic
majority in both Houses

education courses would have to include information about how to use condoms
and other forms of birth control and describe their benefits and side effects.
They would also have to tell students how to prevent sexually transmitted

could remove their children from sex ed classes, as they can now.

could decide not to have a sex education program, but they would have to tell

Meanwhile, over in Utah, state legislators are still
debating whether to change state law that prohibits schools from
the "advocacy or
encouragement" of birth control.
Because the line of what constitutes "advocacy
or encouragement" is rather fuzzy the law has effectively kept most talk of contraceptives
out of the classroom. A bipartisan group is working to craft a bill.

[Sen. Stephen Urquhart,
R-St. George]’s bill, still in draft form, would remove that prohibition and
instead require teachers to talk about the limitations and benefits of
contraceptives and the importance of parental guidance in such matters.

It would also require the State Board of
Education to select instructional materials about contraception for districts
to use. Parents would still be allowed to opt their children out of the lesson.
Urquhart said he would also likely allow districts to opt out if they don’t
want to teach about contraception.

The bill would still prohibit advocacy of
homosexuality, advocacy of sexual activity outside marriage, instruction in the
intricacies of intercourse and explicit demonstrations of contraceptive

poll conducted by the Salt
Lake Tribune
found people nearly even divided against the idea posed by the
bill, although how questions are posed can have a big effect on the outcome.

Melissa Bird, executive
director of the Planned Parenthood Action Council (PPAC), however, said the
results of the poll are surprising. PPAC, which worked with Urquhart and the
state PTA to create the bill, conducted its own poll through Dan Jones and
Associates in September. In that poll, PPAC asked respondents if they agreed or
disagreed that "comprehensive sex education will likely reduce the number
of unintended teen pregnancies." Sixty-seven percent of those polled in
the PPAC survey agreed.

Utah is also considering passing legislation that
criminalizes actions to terminate
a pregnancy
, other than through a legally-obtained abortion.

A Utah House committee
has approved a bill that would let charges be filed against a woman who tries to
arrange an illegal abortion.

The bill sponsored by
Republican Rep. Carl Wimmer was prompted by a case in which a pregnant
17-year-old girl allegedly paid a man to beat her in an attempt to induce a
miscarriage. A charge filed against the girl was dismissed. The state has
appealed. The baby survived and has been adopted.

Finally let’s end on some good news, Washington State is debating
a proposal that targets crisis
pregnancy centers

bill defines limited service pregnancy centers as organizations that do not
provide prenatal care, comprehensive birth control services, abortions or
referrals for abortions.

SB 6452 would require centers to:

  • Provide reproductive
    health information that is "medically and scientifically accurate."
  • Communicate immediately
    that they do not provide medical care for pregnant women, abortion or
    comprehensive birth control services or referrals for such services.
  • Allow clients to
    self-administer pregnancy tests and provide test results in writing to clients
    as soon as they are known.
  • Keep all health
    information private, unless otherwise authorized, and make a client’s records
    available to her promptly, but no later than 15 working days after receiving a

bill is currently in committee and must be approved by February 4 or will
likely die.

January 29, 2010

House bill could harm pregnant
 Columbia Basin Herald

Pregnancy center assists with
maternal needs
 Martinsburg Journal

Teenagers in America:
Oversexualized and Undervalued

Tebow deserves applause for pro-life stance Chicago

Some think Scott Brown is pro-life and Catholic, but he is neither U.S. Catholic


January 28, 2010

Utahns divided on teaching contraception Salt Lake

Contraception Hurts Marriages, US Bishops Say Catholic

Web Game Lets Players Give Out
Virtual Condoms
 ABC News

How we lost control of sex
 Catholic Herald Online

Teodoro tries balancing act on birth control Manila
Standard Today

Senate passes bill to bar
abstinence-only sex ed programs
 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Can Men Be Trusted to Take Male
Contraceptive Pill?
 Science Daily

Extended Combined Oral Contraceptives:
Do They Work?

New ‘morning after’ pill praised The Press

Morning-after pill that works five
days later
 Daily Mail

Five-day limit for post-sex pill BBC News

New adoption laws to come into effect Sydney Morning

Interview: UNICEF urges caution on
Haitian adoptions
 Global Times

Child Adoption and Graft Top US-Russian Talks The Moscow

Pro-Abortion Hillary Clinton Says
Second Term as Secretary of State Not Likely

The President Who Knew He Was Right American

Man Accused of Killing Kansas Abortion Doctor to Testify FOXNews

Utah House committee approves bill
outlining what abortions are protected from …
 Los Angeles

Nelson Planned to Insist on Tighter Abortion Restrictions New York Times

Legislation strikes a cord in the abortion debate Seattle Times

Catholic bishops: Don’t abandon
health care
 Baltimore Sun

Congressman Smith Blasts Abortion-"Obsessed" Obama – Calls for
Prayer and Fasting

Killer of Kansas abortion doctor eager to testify, friend says Los Angeles

Ireland accused of ‘grossly
misleading’ women over abortion risks
 The Guardian

Man Accused of Killing Kansas Abortion Doctor Takes the Stand FOXNews

Top Legal Scholar Warns Abortion Issue Can Divide a Nation Catholic
Family and Human Rights Institute

Jury to hear closings in slain abortion doc case Washington

Roeder trial creates division
within pro-life movement

My pro-life story Southeast

Pro-Life Legal Group Opposes Planned Parenthood
Efforts to Block South Dakota Law

Father knows best, or perhaps he is
 Sydney Morning Herald

Maureen Reed: ‘Roe v. Wade is law
of the land’
 Minnesota Independent


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.