Repro-Briefs: Ultrasounds, Upside Downs and Prenatal Care

Robin Marty

Nebraska shoots down prenatal care, South Carolina pushes a 24 hour waiting period, and other state news.

The latest in updated bills around the country:

South Carolina senate votes to change its one hour wait for an abortion after seeing an ultrasound or reviewing information on the procedure to a 24 hour wait instead.  The good news is you can timestamp your info if you download it off the internet, and eliminate two clinic visits. They have also arranged it so that you can now get your ultrasound at a crisis pregnancy center, if that appeals to you as well.

New Jersey is in the process of eliminating all family planning money from the state budget.  Maryland, a state that also has no budget for family planning — at least, not until the women give birth, recommends a better approach, proposed by two local legislators.

It doesn’t take a Nobel Prize-winning economist to recognize the folly here, and so we introduced the Family Planning Works Act to bring a little common sense to these line items in Maryland’s budget. It’s a simple piece of legislation that would make women eligible for no-cost family planning services based solely on their income. Single women would qualify if they earned up to about $27,000 per year.

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Good family planning services — including counseling on family planning methods, gynecological care, breast exams, pregnancy tests and contraception — are highly effective at reducing unintended pregnancies and abortions, which, in turn, would mean significant savings in the pregnancy-related care that the state is paying for now. When young women make responsible decisions about having a family, they live healthier, more productive lives, and so do their children. It’s an investment that saves money now — and even more later. And the federal government is willing to fund 90 cents of every dollar we spend.

In Nebraska, anti-choice advocates continue to clash over providing prenatal care for women in poverty, which includes illegal immigrants.  Now that there is no longer funding for their prenatal care, women are reporting that they are turning to abortion because they cannot afford their pregnancies.

Until early this month, Nebraska had the only Medicaid policy in the country that allowed unborn children to qualify. That meant women who weren’t eligible for the government-run insurance program on their own such as illegal immigrants got Medicaid-covered prenatal care because their unborn children qualified.

After federal officials told Nebraska it was breaking Medicaid rules, the state tried to come up with a substitute. That effort appeared dead more than a week ago, when lawmakers sensed they couldn’t muster enough votes to override a veto from Gov. Dave Heineman.

But reports from doctors of several women saying they will have abortions instead because they couldn’t afford prenatal care have reignited the issue. While it’s still unclear whether lawmakers will get a new plan to debate, the abortion reports have raised the possibility they will.

Advocates for the funding approached the governor last night with a compromise, which would include private funds from donors, but the governor said he would still veto the plan.

About 1600 women will be effected by the removal of prenatal funding, with nearly half of those women being citizens or legal immigrants.  Yet the Nebraska governor made it clear he would rather see those women abort those children or have them born with complications as a burden on the healthcare system than possibly provide some medical care to illegal immigrant mothers, regardless of the fact that their children would be born citizens.

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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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