Roundup: Everyone Deserves Safe Medical Care

Rachel Larris

The sad case in Philadelphia shows the lengths women will go to get an abortion and why outlawing it will only make it more dangerous.

No one in the pro-choice movement supports dirty
healthcare clinics and doctors who practice irresponsible medicine. Women
deserve safe abortions performed in sterile environments, as do all who seek
any kind of medical care. Which is why the story this morning about the troubled
case of a Philadelphia clinic is particularly heartbreaking. The Associated
Press
reported:

Federal agents raided a
clinic where abortions are performed and found "deplorable and
unsanitary" conditions, including blood on the floor and parts of aborted
fetuses in jars, according to the state agency that shut it down and suspended
the license of the doctor in charge.

In the order suspending
Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s license, the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Board of
Medicine said investigators found numerous health and safety risks at Gosnell’s
abortion and pain-management clinic, including a preoperative and recovery area
that consisted of several recliners grouped together.

The Philadelphia Inquirer
was told that federal and state drug agents were investigating Dr. Gosnell on
suspicion of illegal distribution of prescription painkillers and his medical
license was suspended on suspicion of a patient dying under his care.

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The likely victim has been
identified by the Inquirer
and her story reminds us that she only turned to
a clinic like Dr. Gosnell’s after being turned away from clinics in both Virginia and
Maryland. Her struggle to get the abortion she and her family desired is
exactly why outlawing abortion will never make it disappear and precisely why
it should be legally practiced in safe, clean medical facilities.

Damber Ghalley
remembers seeing his unconscious sister on an ambulance stretcher, being taken
out the back door of the West Philadelphia clinic where she had undergone an
abortion.

Ghalley and his niece –
the woman’s daughter – were stunned.

"I asked the
doctor, ‘What happened?’ " Ghalley recalled yesterday during a phone
interview. "He said: ‘Her heart stopped. The procedure went well, but her
heart stopped.’ "

Ghalley’s sister,
Karnamaya Mongar, 41, developed a fatal heart arrhythmia after being given
painkillers and other drugs at the clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave., which is
owned and run by Kermit B. Gosnell, according to a state order suspending his
medical license.

The Inquirer reports
that according the order, an unlicensed
employee may have distributed painkillers to Mongar. If the anti-choice
movement had not been so successful in limiting abortion services the victim
should have been able to get an abortion at a clinic in her state of Virginia
or in Maryland. But reading about her case in the Philadelphia Inquirer
shows the lengths to which women will go to terminate a pregnancy if needed.

Ghalley explained that his sister;
her husband, Ash; and their three children were living with him in Woodbridge,
Va., a suburb of Washington. They had arrived in the United States only five
months earlier from their native Bhutan, a poor, mountainous, landlocked nation
between China and India.

Ghalley, who has been in the United
States for a decade and speaks English fluently, became their interpreter,
guide, and chauffeur.

He did not question his sister
when she asked him to drive her to an abortion clinic in Virginia.

"In our culture, they [the
couple] cannot talk about it with relatives," Ghalley said. "She was
depressed. I figured she has three children, she has grandkids also, maybe she
did not want another child."

Because Mongar was more than 12
weeks pregnant, the Virginia abortion clinic referred her to one in Maryland.

"They didn’t want to do it
either," Ghalley said. "They gave the name of the Philadelphia
clinic."

Mongar was about 18 or 19 weeks
pregnant on that November night, Ghalley said. Her husband could not accompany
her because "he just got a job in a chicken factory."

Ghalley’s first impression of the
Philadelphia facility – a shabby, three-story brick structure with a two-story
annex – was not good.

"So dirty. Dirty, bloody, a
lot of people waiting," Ghalley recalled. "I was thinking at that
time, maybe he [the doctor] was cheaper."

Most reproductive healthcare clinics that provide
abortion services are professionally run. What Ghalley describes is almost like
the "backalley" abortions of the pre-Roe era. We don’t need to outlaw abortion in
order prevent deaths like Mongar. Instead we need to make sure that abortion is
always save and legal.

Mini-roundup:
Yesterday South Dakota killed a bill that would have required
insurance companies to cover birth control.
And Bristol Palin will appear on The
Secret Life of the American Teenager
as
herself.

 

February 24, 2010

Utah Lawmakers Approve Bill
Prosecuting Women Seeking Illegal Abortions
 Lifesite

A death after abortion at
suspended medic’s clinic  
Philadelphia Inquirer

Decision will expand local access
to abortion pill
 The Register-Guard

Abortions via
medication to be offered in our area
 Mail Tribune

February 23, 2010

Bart Stupak: Abortion Language in
Obama’s Health Plan ‘Unacceptable’
 Politics Daily

Planned Parenthood’s move stirs
secularists
 Worcester Telegram

Family Planning service in
Pacific is patchy says spokesperson
 Radio New
Zealand International

Bishops slam condom campaign Healthcare
Today

Bristol Palin to play a teen mom on
TV
 The Money Times

New Studies Renew Sex Education
Debate
 District Administration

Pro-Life Groups
Reject Obama’s Compromise Health Care Plan
 Christian Post

Pro-life groups
oppose new Obama plan for health-care reform
 Catholic
Culture

Fetuses First Feministe

Dramatic Pro-Life Rescue in
Vegas
 Lifesite

VA Delegate Backs Off Comment About
Disabled Children and Abortion
 WHSV

Nicaragua’s abortion ban
preventing cancer patient from receiving treatment
 Feministing

SC lawmaker proposes abortion funding
ban
 WACH

Health Department Probes NY
Abortionist Who Killed Woman in Failed Abortion
 LifeNews.com

Abortion Doctor’s
License Suspended After Clinic Raid
 FOXNews

Jury Selection In Anti-Abortion Activist,
Businessman Murders
 WILX-TV

Pa. abortion doctor’s
license suspended after raid
 Houston Chronicle

Miller Attacks Marshall For Abortion Comments Loudoun
Independent

Abortion supporters
manipulating women to promote cause, warns population expert
 Catholic News
Agency

Abortion debaters
have agreed to disagree for 10 years
 Los Angeles
Times

‘Deplorable’ conditions found at abortion clinic msnbc.com

Perennial Feud Remains on Abortion Wall Street
Journal

Availability of Abortions Unclear
in Proposed Health Care Bill
 Inklings News

Why be pro-choice and oppose
the death penalty?
 Wednesday Journal

The GOP’s misguided hunt for
heretics
 Washington Post

SD House kills contraceptive
coverage bill
  Daily Republic

Ed Balls denies sex education ‘opt
out’ for faith schools
 Telegraph.co.uk

Beefed up maternity health
insurance bill sails through the House
 The Colorado
Independent

Sexually confused The Guardian

Commons backs sex education move BBC News

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.