Today, it’s follow up time on some of the stories and themes we’ve been following this year across the country.
Remember when Wake County in North Carolina decided it wanted to do away with abortion coverage in its employee insurance plans? They may get their coverage back now, or at least have a chance to discuss it rather than have it rammed through by one commissioner.
Commissioner Stan Norwalk doesn’t think Cooke should have moved unilaterally. He said Sunday that the board should have voted on whether to drop the coverage.
“I don’t want to be bullied into doing something that we wouldn’t have otherwise done,” Norwalk said.
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The Democrat also said fewer than 20 women have had county-funded abortions in the last five years.
“By in large, tax dollars aren’t being used to pay for abortions,” Norwalk said.
In light of the anti-choice claim that women who need abortions can just get a seperate policy to cover that procedure, the Washington Post takes a look at states that provide “abortion riders” for people who have insurance plans that don’t cover abortion. Surprise! No one ever purchases them.
Amid a high-stakes debate over abortion that could determine the fate of President Obama‘s health-care initiative, North Dakota’s law offers a test because it is much like the language favored by antiabortion lawmakers on Capitol Hill, notably Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.).
“There’s not a lot to tell. We have no member who elected to have abortion riders,” said Denise Kolpack, vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, which covers about 80 percent of the North Dakota market. “We would be legally bound to provide an offering, but we have no groups that have requested it.”
Similar policies are in place in Kentucky, Missouri, Idaho and Oklahoma.
“It is rare that we hear in the market that an employer would request a rider for this coverage,” said Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield spokesman Tony Felts, whose territory includes Kentucky.
In the five states where abortion coverage is prohibited except with a rider, it is unclear how customers who purchase group insurance, typically for their employees, learn about the abortion coverage option.
“I’m not sure if an employer would know that or not,” Felts said of customers in Kentucky, when asked whether Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield advertises its policies. He said that if a customer requested abortion coverage, the company would offer it “in compliance” with state law.
Blue Cross of Idaho spokesman Stewart Johnson said, “I don’t know that we would mention it. They would probably ask about it.” He said the company does not track how often a group purchases abortion insurance.
A look at Congressman Bart Stupak’s home district in Michigan reveals that there isn’t even an abortion provider there, and that his overreaching amendment would negatively affect what little prenatal care the uninsured in his district can receive.
“Right now abortion is already restricted,” said Julie McKeiver, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Western and Northern Michigan. “[Stupak’s amendment] would take away any reasonable expectation that they would get coverage of services.”
The regional Planned Parenthood organization has been forced by budget cuts to close clinics and reduce hours but maintains clinics that do not perform abortions in Petoskey and Marquette. Women who live in northern lower Michigan or the U.P. often must travel hundreds of miles to downstate abortion providers or cross into Wisconsin or Minnesota for services.
Unfortunately, abortion is not the only medical service not available to women in Stupak’s district without having to travel a long distance. It may be particularly ironic that if Stupak’s abortion concerns end up killing the health care reform bill, pregnant women in his district may lose access to the pre- and post-natal care that is crucial to the health of their babies. Increasing numbers of uninsured residents are putting a huge strain on hospitals and forcing them to close down their obstetrics departments.
According to the most recent data available from the Michigan Department of Community Health, 15.6 percent of Michigan’s non-elderly adults are uninsured, and northern lower Michigan has a higher than average rate of people who are uninsured.
Cheboygan Memorial Hospital closed its urgent care walk-in clinic last month and announced that it will discontinue its obstetric services this month because the high level of uninsured and Medicaid patients has bankrupted the unit. According to the hospital, in fiscal year 2009 CMH posted a $304,000 loss in the OB department.
In a statement the small hospital explained that its main service area includes not only Cheboygan County but also Presque Isle County, Montmorency County, the northern half of Emmet County, and the eastern half of Mackinac County, and that seasonal unemployment levels in some of these areas tops well over 25 percent.
Florida made the news for attempting to make all abortion criminal earlier this year. Now, as legislation piles up, political experts are noticing the trend of “symbolic politics” as candidates try to cozy up to their anti-choice base.
Creating jobs and cutting spending may be lawmakers’ declared priorities this spring, but that has not dissuaded some conservatives from filing a raft of proposals relating to abortion and the unborn.
About half of the bills come from legislators running for re-election, in a year when Tea Party activists and other GOP malcontents are challenging candidates to prove their conservative credentials. At least one bill was scheduled for a hearing early in the session, by a Republican committee chairwoman who is running for governor.
John Stemberger, of the Florida Family Policy Council, said he’s delighted to see this year’s show of anti-abortion initiatives. Lawmakers’ votes and sponsorship of at least some of the bills, he said, will factor prominently in the guide to political candidates his organization compiles each year for socially conservative voters.
Finally, two weeks ago, Arizona politician Trent Franks stated that abortion was worse for the African American community than slavery. Now, Personhood Nevada is comparing its drive to get fertilized eggs to have full rights to the push to end slavery in the country.
The initiative petition, filed Oct. 21 with the Secretary of State’s Office, would amend the Nevada Constitution to give “the inalienable right to life for everyone, young or old, health or ill, conscious or unconscious, born or unborn.”
The opening brief filed Thursday, signed by Las Vegas lawyer Michael L. Peters, says the Civil War was fought to correct a “terrible wrong” that blacks were considered property and not people.
This petition, Peters said, seeks a constitutional amendment that every human being from the beginning of life shall be considered a person.
Judge Russell said the language in the initiative petition was too general and vague and failed to give adequate notice to residents of what they would be voting on.
Frankly, I think anyone who believes that a fertilized egg is a “person” should take a moment and ask a couple who have undergone a failed IVF attempt how they enjoy being parents. That should make it very clear that pregnancy does not begin at fertilization.
Mini Roundup – It’s a very rare occurrence when the pro-choice and anti-choice get to agree. The Nebraska prenatal funding bill is one of those moments of convergence where everyone gets to be mad at the governor.
March 12, 2010
Anti-abortion campaigner arrested over ‘death threats’ to Elton John – PinkNews.co.uk
Dahlkemper’s health-care reform vote not set – GoErie.com
Pelosi: Stupak Wants Health Care Reform (VIDEO) – Huffington Post
First thoughts: Trust and the trip – msnbc.com
Michigan: Trucker Guilty in Killings – New York Times
Pelosi Calls Stupak’s Bluff on Abortion – Big Think
Stupak Gains Primary Challenger – Ms. Magazine
Universal health care tends to cut the abortion rate – Washington Post
House passes abortion ultrasound bill – Charleston Gazette
Tea Party Avoids Divisive Social Issues – New York Times
Anti-abortion zealot makes pitch to Iowa evangelical voters – Salt Lake Tribune
Women on Contraceptive Pills May Live Longer – TopNews United States
Women on Birth Control Live Longer – Daily Beast
All those births put planet at risk, scholars warn – Salt Lake Tribune
HIV/AIDS Registers a Rise Among Girls and Women – TopNews United States
Nearly 100 Australian authors condemn China for denying visa to HIV-positive … – The Canadian Press
Ugandan Doctor Fears Ground May be Lost Against HIV/AIDS if US and other … – Voice of America
Women Declare: ‘We’re Not Dolls!’ – Brooklyn Daily Eagle
March 13, 2010
Specialty plates touting right to abortion will face vote today – The Virginian-Pilot
US avoids anti-abortion debate at UN meeting – The Associated Press
Bart Stupak: Abortion Problem For Democrats – The Admonition
GOP gubernatorial hopefuls clash – San Diego Union Tribune
Poizner shifts on abortion and school bonds – San Diego News Room
W.Va. abortion bill heads to Gov. Manchin – Charleston Gazette
Catholic hospitals support health care bill – The Associated Press
Emaciated budget trumps sideshow of social bills – R & D Magazine
Dark days when abortion was illegal – Berkshire Eagle
Both candidates veer right in Calif. GOP gov. race – San Jose Mercury News
Insurers report on use of abortion riders – Washington Post
Virginia legislators, give us choices – Daily Press
Annie Lennox trying to get world to see changing face of AIDS – CNN International
March 14, 2010
Catholic Health Group Accepts Abortion Language in Reform Bill – Politics Daily
House, Senate bills both change policy, differ on impact – Wausau Daily Herald
Obama’s health care legacy hangs on power of Rep. Clyburn’s persuasion – MiamiHerald.com
Ultrasound bill goes to Manchin – Beckley Register-Herald
Abortion Debate Still Contains More Questions Than Answers – Southern Pines Pilot
Anti-abortion group says amendment push similar to slavery issue – Las Vegas Sun
New Bill On Abortion Practices Passes – WTAP-TV
Health care, Catholics, and life issues – Examiner.com
Debate on abortion will never go away – Yuma Sun
Several abortion bills await in Tallahassee – Tampa Tribune
Obama Administration Pushes Back on Abortion Claims – New York Times
Birth control is an electoral issue, says new survey – Manila Standard Today
Partying to Change the World – New York Times
Floating population births a worry – Global Times
CDC Launches HIV/AIDS Info Web Site – Afro American
Annie Lennox “SINGS”! Asks for Help for Women and Children – Lez Get Real
Cabinet approves new anti HIV/AIDS plan – Politicsweb
New female condom adds to anti-AIDS arsenal – Chicago Tribune
HIV/AIDS care needs state funds – Charleston Post Courier
Health-Care Fight Targets Waverers – Wall Street Journal
C-Sections linked to women dying in/after childbirth – Examiner.com
Sarah Tucker: Health care for babies – Omaha World-Herald
Prenatal care debate: Beyond costs – Omaha World-Herald
Local infant mortality higher among blacks than whites – Houma Courier
Give children knowledge of sex – Salt Lake Tribune
March 15, 2010
Life, Rights Begin At Conception – Harrisonburg Daily News Record
Arguments Set In Abortion Nofification – MyFox Chicago
Lawmakers claim abortion bills don’t limit rights of women – Tampa Tribune
Free Contraception Can Cut Abortion Rate in Half – eMaxHealth
Count Your Sperms Before You Plan – Oneindia
Plan advocating sterilization continues to spark criticism, debate, support – Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Children, women with HIV face destitution & violence – MorungExpress
Drop in childbirth deaths not happening – Chicago Daily Herald
DIY cervical cancer test launched today – Mirror.co.uk
Midwife law may deliver more home births – Casper Star-Tribune Online