Roundup: Evangelicals Seek Common Ground On Contraception

Robin Marty

Could common ground finally be reached between the religous and the secular when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancies?

Common ground.  It’s something we often like to talk about, but, it seems that when it comes to pro-choice and anti-choice discussions, there isn’t a lot of space both sides seem comfortable sharing.

But that may be about to change.  The National Association of Evangelicals has signaled that they are ready to begin to work on reducing the number of unintended pregnancies in one of the few ways we know actually works — access to contraception.  From the Pocono Record:

The NAE represents 40 denominations, many evangelical organizations and millions of American evangelicals. The NAE board of directors unanimously adopted a resolution that supports a wide range of efforts to decrease the number of abortions in the United States. According to a statement, the NAE noted results of a Gallup poll of evangelicals that “Significant majorities of (evangelical) respondents indicated support for a wide range of possible methods for decreasing the abortion rate — from parental consent and waiting periods before abortions to efforts at making adoption, pre- and post-natal care, and contraceptive services more accessible.”

NAE president Leith Anderson said the group will continue its active opposition to legal abortion, but members feel that despite this opposition they wish to “seek honest conversation” about ways to reduce the number of abortions. Such conversations “should build on our shared concerns for human dignity, protecting children and promoting healthy families and communities,” the resolution said.

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Of course, taking this step isn’t going to be easy for the Evangelicals, who are already being harried by their “nothing but abstinence” counterparts for appearing weak. (LSN) asked Aaron Mercer, the project director for NAE Generation Forum, whether the NAE felt that advocating contraceptives could drive a wedge between the pro-life efforts of evangelicals and the Catholic church, whose teachings reject contraception as part of the modern-day attack on the family.

Mercer replied that the issue was “a subject that needs more exploration right now.” “We haven’t made any statements on that front,” he added, saying that the group had thus far merely pointed to what the Gallup poll indicated most evangelicals believed.

When it was pointed out that the “common ground” approach is often interpreted as a softened stance against legalized abortion, Mercer insisted that NAE officials “see it as part of the same effort” as previous pro-life advocacy. “The resolution makes that clear and we’ve stated all along that we continue to oppose abortion firmly, and we’re going to continue in that vein just as we have all along,” he said. “We know that ultimately abortion is going to be a problem if Roe v. Wade is on the books or off the books… and so we want to look at what are some practical ways that we can bring down that rate.”

Asked if the NAE considered making abortion illegal one of its goals, Mercer replied, “Yes. We haven’t changed our goals at all.”

The announcement couldn’t have had better timing.  Later this week, American Life League will be doing their annual “Pill Kills” protest, this time claiming that the pill doesn’t just abort babies, but destroys the environment, too. And at the same time, the Catholic Bishops continue to use their strict and often incorrect medical interpretations to try and stop most contraceptives from being more easily accessible in new healthcare plans, according to Politico.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, opposes categorizing birth control among preventive services.

“Congressional debate on the need to cover ‘preventive services’ in health care reform centered on services needed to prevent life-threatening diseases like breast cancer, not on a need to prevent the birth of new recipients of health care,” Richard Doerflinger of the conference’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities e-mailed POLITICO.

“Requiring contraception and sterilization in all private health plans would be an enormous imposition on the consciences of religious organizations and others who now have the right to purchase a health plan in accord with their moral and religious values.”

With all of these factions at work, can common ground ever be reached?  One can only hope.

Mini Roundup: An HIV positive woman about to give birth allegedly could not get admitted in multiple hospitals in Suryapet, and instead gave birth on the side of the road.  She was said to be removed from her original hospital once her HIV status was disclosed, subjecting both her, her child and her attendants to additional risks.

May 31, 2010

Christian conservatives target seated judges – The Associated Press

Online only – Of abortions and Sister Margaret McBride… – TODAYonline

Mexico: Supreme Court Protects Rape Victims – Bikya Masr

Burris Amendment Will Repeal Ban on Abortions for Servicewomen – Firedoglake

Crisis Pregnancy Center In Maryland Sues County So They Can Keep Lying To Women – Blue Wave News

Montana Personhood Amendment Backers Trying Again for Abortion Ballot Vote –

Indiana Abortion Advocates Challenge Fort Wayne Measure for Women’s Safety –

Antidepressants during pregnancy increase risk of sponaneous abortion, study finds – Los Angeles Times

Dr. Tiller’s Murder: A Year Later – Opposing Views

William McGurn: Gallup’s Pro-Life America – Wall Street Journal

Some progress on the thorny abortion issue – Pocono Record

Evangelicals Launch Effort to ‘Reduce Abortions,’ Float Contraceptive Advocacy – Lifesite

HIV woman refused admission, gives birth by roadside – Times of India

Australia Launches Sixth National HIV Strategy – Gov Monitor

HIV woman gives birth by the road  – The Hindu

Vaginal Gel That Kills Herpes, HIV May Be Available by 2012 – BusinessWeek

HIV patient delivers baby on roadside –

Human Trials Next for Promising Breast Cancer Vaccine – One News Page

Breast Cancer Vaccine Shows Promising Results– CBS News

More women using midwives in the hospital – KPNX-12

Safe motherhood day observed – The New Nation

NHIS vows to improve maternal, child health – Vanguard

June 1, 2010

Don’t condemn abortion choice –

Letters: Abortion overshadows women’s movement – Appleton Post Crescent

Pro-Choice Media – Big Think

Teens need access to contraceptives – Press & Sun-Bulletin

Birth control now a flash point – Politico

1300 dying of Aids every week – The Zimbabwe Guardian

Namibia HIV women sue over forced sterilisation – BBC News

Canada ready to spend $1 billion on maternal health – Hamilton Spectator

News Law and Policy

California Lawmakers Take Action Against Rampant Wage Theft

Nicole Knight

A survey of people who work for low wages found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the "wage theft capital of the country."

Los Angeles has earned the distinction as the country’s wage theft capital, but a new California law is tackling the rampant problem of wage theft with new enforcement tools.

The law, SB 1342, signed last month by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), gives city and county authorities subpoena powers when investigating wage violations. Until now, the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement was the primary agency charged with investigating wage theft cases.

State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) authored the legislation to “ensure that our low-wage workers, who already face many challenges, receive the pay that they have earned,” Mendoza wrote in an Orange County Breeze op-ed.

Wage theft is the illegal practice of failing to pay overtime and minimum wages, denying lunch breaks, or forcing employees to work off the clock. A survey of people who work for low wages by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the “wage theft capital of the country.”

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Some 654,914 workers in L.A. County are subjected to at least one pay-based violation in any given week, researchers noted.

Most people who work low-wage jobs in L.A. were born outside the United States, and the majority are Latino (73.4 percent), Asian (17.9 percent), or Black (6.3 percent), researchers found.

Wage theft is not only illegal, it contributes to food insecurity and housing instability in low-income families, Mendoza noted.

“This bill protects hard-working Californians by clarifying the ability of cities and counties to investigate non-compliance with local wage laws,” Mendoza said.

A legislative analysis of SB 1342 cited research noting that minimum wage violations are rampant in industries such as garment manufacturing, domestic service, building services, and department stores, where wages are low.

The measure comes as states and cities are increasing minimum wages as lawmakers in Congress have refused to consider raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Brown in April signed a law lifting the statewide minimum pay rate to $15 per hour by 2022. More than a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, have proposed or enacted $15 minimum wage rates, according to the National Employment Law Project.

News Abortion

Study: Telemedicine Abortion Care a Boon for Rural Patients

Nicole Knight

Despite the benefits of abortion care via telemedicine, 18 states have effectively banned the practice by requiring a doctor to be physically present.

Patients are seen sooner and closer to home in clinics where medication abortion is offered through a videoconferencing system, according to a new survey of Alaskan providers.

The results, which will be published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, suggest that the secure and private technology, known as telemedicine, gives patients—including those in rural areas with limited access—greater choices in abortion care.

The qualitative survey builds on research that found administering medication abortion via telemedicine was as safe and effective as when a doctor administers the abortion-inducing medicine in person, study researchers said.

“This study reinforces that medication abortion provided via telemedicine is an important option for women, particularly in rural areas,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, one of the authors of the study and professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). “In Iowa, its introduction was associated with a reduction in second-trimester abortion.”

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Maine and Minnesota also provide medication abortion via telemedicine. Clinics in four states—New York, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington—are running pilot studies, as the Guardian reported. Despite the benefits of abortion care via telemedicine, 18 states have effectively banned the practice by requiring a doctor to be physically present.

The researchers noted that even “greater gains could be made by providing [medication abortion] directly to women in their homes,” which U.S. product labeling doesn’t allow.

In late 2013, researchers with Ibis Reproductive Health and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health interviewed providers, such as doctors, nurses, and counselors, in clinics run by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands that were using telemedicine to provide medication abortion. Providers reported telemedicine’s greatest benefit was to pregnant people. Clinics could schedule more appointments and at better hours for patients, allowing more to be seen earlier in pregnancy.

Nearly twenty-one percent of patients nationwide end their pregnancies with medication abortion, a safe and effective two-pill regime, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alaska began offering the abortion-inducing drugs through telemedicine in 2011. Patients arrive at a clinic, where they go through a health screening, have an ultrasound, and undergo informed consent procedures. A doctor then remotely reviews the patients records and answers questions via a videoconferencing link, before instructing the patient on how to take the medication.

Before 2011, patients wanting abortion care had to fly to Anchorage or Seattle, or wait for a doctor who flew into Fairbanks twice a month, according to the study’s authors.

Beyond a shortage of doctors, patients in Alaska must contend with vast geography and extreme weather, as one physician told researchers:

“It’s negative seven outside right now. So in a setting like that, [telemedicine is] just absolutely the best possible thing that you could do for a patient. … Access to providers is just so limited. And … just because you’re in a state like that doesn’t mean that women aren’t still as much needing access to these services.”

“Our results were in line with other research that has shown that this service can be easily integrated into other health care offered at a clinic, can help women access the services they want and need closer to home, and allows providers to offer high-level care to women from a distance,” Kate Grindlay, lead author on the study and associate at Ibis Reproductive Health, said in a statement.


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