Roundup: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

Robin Marty

What's worse:  having parents involved in reproductive health or NOT having parents involved in reproductive health?  I guess it depends which state you live in.

Still reacting to the story of the teenager in Seattle who didn’t inform her mother before she received an abortion, columnists are beginning to hit other non-parental consent states in the west coast to rally support for new restrictive laws on teenagers seeking the procedure.  California radio personality Alana Burke opines in a column that abortions without parental permission “undermine the family” and must be ended.

In California, legislation to require even parental notification has been repeatedly defeated. The only requirement is that a licensed physician performs the abortion, generally paid for with public funds. It’s 11:30 a.m. on a school day. Do you know where your daughter is?

At one point, Planned Parenthood sold “I had an abortion” T-shirts on its Web page, and in 2008 the Planned Parenthood in Indiana sold “gift certificates” that could, in addition to other services, be used for abortions. What’s next? Buy one, get one free?

The Oregonian’s “just right of center” columnist, Elizabeth Hodve, states that these types of decisions are why people don’t want their children in public schools anymore.

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If you ever wonder why some parents — especially non-religious or middle- and lower-income types — choose private school over a fully funded public education, I offer up the story of an old problem made fresh again at Seattle’s Ballard High School.

In late March, news broke that the mother of a 15-year-old student at Ballard was irate after discovering that the school-based health clinic helped her daughter obtain an abortion. The procedure was performed during the school day without the parent’s knowledge. Workers arranged a taxi to take the girl to an abortion provider for the procedure and bring her back to school. The mom found out about the incident some months later and has since gone public with her complaint that she was kept out of the loop when it came to her child’s health care.

The old problem isn’t that schools or health clinics in schools are forcing kids into abortions. While that’s a concern, the old problem we have yet to resolve is that some schools and health providers, bolstered by state law, usurp parents’ rights and responsibilities. Shutting non-abusive parents out when it comes to something as serious as an abortion bothers some families. It should. As should the fact that a Seattle school student was allowed to leave campus without parent permission.

Meanwhile, in Utah, parents who attempted to get involved in reducing teen pregnancy are still reeling from the abuse and misinformation that was launched at them by anti-choice, anti-sex ed advocates.  The Utah Parent Teacher Association endorsed a bill that would allow information on contraception to disbursed in classrooms, although teachers would still not be allowed to advocate for or encourage students to use them.  The materials, which would be provided in part by the School Board, could then be brought home to parents who may choose to discuss them with their children.

Of course, that is not what anti-choice groups claimed the bill was about.  Instead, it would teach sexuality and educate them on homosexuality.

Leaders of several groups, including Utah Eagle Forum, United Families Utah and Standard of Liberty, maintain the information they provided about the bill was accurate. But Liz Zentner, state PTA health commissioner, and bill sponsor Sen. Stephen Urquhart, said some confused the issue with inaccuracies.

“It should not have given the PTA a black eye, but through the erroneous information that went out from some groups, it made us look really bad,” Zentner said.

For example, Standard of Liberty, a Pleasant Grove-based group that aims to raise awareness about “radical sexual movements,” wrote in an e-mail to its 8,000 members that the bill would have required all districts to offer broader sex education, including instruction about homosexuality. In reality, the bill would have kept the current law’s language prohibiting teachers from advocating homosexuality and would not have meant more comprehensive sex education in schools.

Stephen Graham, Standard of Liberty president, said he stands by the statement that the bill could have led to more discussions about homosexuality had students raised questions about the issue.

But Urquhart said such misinformation led to the bill’s demise. It died after the Senate Education Committee refused to let Urquhart present an updated version for hearing.

“If someone is out there saying the bill presented homosexuality, then I think I need to run a bill on reading lessons or honesty,” Urquhart said. “What do you do in a situation like that where someone either can’t understand simple English or is willing to fabricate a story?”

Urquhart’s final version of the bill would have added language to current law clarifying that although teachers are prohibited from advocating contraception, that doesn’t mean they can’t discuss it at all. The bill also would have encouraged parental involvement and made instructional materials on contraception, including those to be prepared by the State Board of Education, available to parents.

It seems the biggest problem with reproductive health in schools is that you’re attacked for getting parents involved, and equally attacked if you don’t.

Mini Roundup – Looks like we may need to rethink the idea of the “Victorian prude.”  And this woman appears to have gotten the wrong message from the “fertility rite” side of Easter.

April 2, 2010

Democrats, For Life? – Death + Taxes Magazine

Abortion opponents protest at Aurora clinic – Chicago Daily Herald

Anti-abortion Terrorists and the Absurdity of the Roeder Argument – AlterNet

SD Unified Schools Change Pregnancy Policy – KPBS

Bill would alert prosecutors to teen abortions – Kansas City Star

‘Family planning, access to safe, legal abortion key to maternal, child health’ – The Punch

Row rages in Italy over abortion pill – Independent

Latest News: Abortion Doctor’s Killer Uses Sentencing as Forum – Daily Break News

Pregnancy crisis centers may have to post disclaimers – Austin American-Statesman

Some anti-abortion activists see racial conspiracy – Richmond Times Dispatch

Carly Fiorina outlines her anti-abortion stance – San Francisco Chronicle

Archbishop Nichols is saving the Catholic Church from the condom trap – Telegraph.co.uk

Victorian-era women enjoyed making love, according to earliest sex survey – Telegraph.co.uk

One waste of government money that conservatives love – Chicago Tribune

Losing My Religion: One Catholic’s Crisis of Faith – Huffington Post

Maternal care should be priority – Coast Reporter

Focus on mothers, not on abortion – Toronto Sun

Women on pill ‘may live longer’ – BBC News

The Catholic Church’s Blind Spot? – CBS News

iPod-Sized HIV Detector to Bring Affordable Testing to Rural Communities – Inhabitat

Canada Cuts Off Funding to International AIDS Vaccine Project – TheBody.com

April 3, 2010

Illinois judge lifts abortion notification order – The Associated Press

Roeder Gets Life; Canada Stints on Minority’s Care – Women’s eNews

Pro-Choice, Capitals License Plates Remain in Limbo – Sun Gazette

US abortion doctor’s killer gets 50 years – Irish Independent

Is abortion your moral bottom line on health reform? – USA Today

Scott Roeder Sentenced to “Hard 50” for Tiller Murder – Ms. Magazine

Fact Check: The abortion issue – Traverse City Record Eagle

Abortions during the school day? Parents must be told – OregonLive.com

After years as justice, John Paul Stevens wants what’s ‘best for the court’ – Washington Post

Allen County board approves ordinance requiring info from out-of-town abortion … – Fox 59

Reproductive Fraud? Sham Pregnancy Centers Face Pushback – Huffington Post

Killer of Abortion Doctor Gets Life – FOXNews

Alana Burke: Easy teen abortions undermine the family – Record-Searchlight

Lack of sex ed would mean more abortions – Chicago Daily Herald

PTA says its sex ed stance was misunderstood – Salt Lake Tribune

April 4, 2010

Rage against Rep. Stupak is misdirected – Asheville Citizen-Times

People weigh in on anti-abortion amendment – WLOX

Blacks and abortion – Sunday Paper

Church a factor in sentencing – Topeka Capital Journal

Conflict between 2 Neb. abortion bills?  – NTV

Levy’s stance on abortion riles Conservative Party chief  – Newsday

Legislature: Some work done – Topeka Capital Journal

Editorial, 4/4: Senators redirect abortion debate – Lincoln Journal Star

How to talk to your kids about sex – Mirror.co.uk

Cannon backs maternal health initiative – Globe and Mail

Syphilis rates triple in city – Cincinnati.com

HIV infections up in Wisconsin, officials say trend disturbing – BusinessNorth.com

Number of HIV cases increasing throughout state – Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

With help, Minnesota moms keep babies HIV-free – Pioneer Press

Hope for shot? Structure of HIV protein unveiled – Times of India

April 5, 2010

As GOP’er, Levy ‘evolves’ on abortion rights – Newsday

With ‘Social Justice’ You Don’t Get Egg Roll – American Thinker

Allen County OKs ordinance on out-of-town doctors – News Sentinel

UK program helps cut teen pregnancy rate – Louisville Courier-Journal

New Male Birth Control Option – The Stir

$300 Offer to Drug Addicts/Alcoholics to Use Birth Control Going GLOBAL April … – PR Newswire

Mobile people more vulnerable to HIV: UN report – Jakarta Post

Vanderbilt HIV clinical trial shows promise – The Tennessean

Methadone ‘cuts HIV and death rate’ – The Press Association

Tenn. Lawmakers Advance Bills On Abortion Clinic Anti-Coercion Signs, Abortion … – Medical News Today

Miss. ‘Personhood’ Measure Set For 2011 Ballot; Neb. Considers ‘Watered-Down … – Medical News Today

UK program helps cut teen pregnancy rate – Louisville Courier-Journal

Nevada’s High Court to Hear ‘Personhood’ Appeal – Women’s eNews

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 Family Planning

Lawsuit Challenges Arizona’s Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood

Nicole Knight Shine

The Republican-backed law specifically targets abortion providers, excluding any facility from Medicaid that fails "to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a federal court to block an Arizona law defunding Planned Parenthood, arguing in a legal challenge filed Thursday that the Arizona measure is “illegal.”

The GOP-backed law, signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in May, specifically targets abortion providers, excluding any facility from Medicaid that fails “to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Federal law already bars health-care providers from using Medicaid dollars for abortion care, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

In an 18-page complaint, the plaintiffs argue that the restriction is impermissible under Medicaid statutes, and they ask for an injunction on the law, which goes into effect August 6. Planned Parenthood said in an emailed statement that the law could slash funding for birth control, cancer screenings, and preventive care, affecting more than 2,500 Medicaid patients in the state.

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The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state Medicaid agency, did not respond to a request for comment.

Jennifer Lee, staff attorney at the ACLU, called the Arizona law “another attempt to intimidate doctors who provide abortion and to punish low-income women in particular,” in a statement announcing the lawsuit. Planned Parenthood operates 11 medical centers in the state, including three in underserved and impoverished communities with high rates of infant mortality, according to the court filing.

At least ten states, including Arizona, have attempted to strip Planned Parenthood of funding—the fallout from a string of deceptive smear videos masterminded by David Daleiden, the head of the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress, who now faces a felony record-tampering charge.

“This case is about the people who rely on us for basic care every day,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in an announcement of the Arizona suit. “We’ll continue fighting in Arizona, and anywhere else there are efforts to block our patients from the care they need.”

The Arizona law represents the state’s second attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court decision finding a similar defunding measure, HB 2800, violated federal Medicaid law.

In April, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent a letter to all 50 states saying that cutting funding to qualified providers solely because they provide abortion care violates federal law.

Independent analysis suggests gutting Planned Parenthood funding exacts a toll on health care.

2015 report from the Congressional Budget Office indicated that health-care access would suffer under Planned Parenthood funding cuts, with the potential for $650 million in additional Medicaid spending over a decade and thousands of more births.

In Texas, births surged 27 percent among low-income women who were using injectable birth control but lost access to the service when the state cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.