Roundup: Massachusetts Town Caves on Condom Policy

Beth Saunders

Following up on the Massachusetts school district in the hot seat over a policy to distribute condoms to any student that requests one, plus Sharron Angle knows God's will, and Pennsylvania is poised to ban the shackling of incarcerated birthing women.

Last week, Robin wrote about the Massachusetts school district in the hot seat over a policy to distribute condoms to any student that requested one. The school superintendant, Beth Singer, has apologized to the town for the media attention, and has said that the school will revise its policy so that elementary students will not be able to get condoms from the school nurse.

School officials will revise the written policy, adopted June 8, to make it clearer that elementary-aged students won’t be able to obtain a condom if they request one from the school nurse, Singer said in her letter released via e-mail. She wrote that it is necessary to revise the policy’s wording after it was “so badly understood and misrepresented by the media” in recent weeks, Singer said.

Was it just the media attention that caused her to change the policy? Uh, no:

On Thursday, Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat who is running for re-election this year, called Singer to discuss the issue. The two talked about how the policy is written in a way that could possibly be misunderstood, both by outsiders to Provincetown and local residents and parents, according to Singer.

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According to the Boston Globe,

The board is now revising the policy so that only students in grades 5 to 12 will have access to condoms through a school nurse on a case-by-case basis, and parents will have the right to exempt their children from the program.

The new policy is as follows:

The Provincetown Public Schools is concerned about student well-being. We believe abstinence is the only sure way to safeguard against sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. Therefore, we do not approve of sexual activity by students.

If students engage in sexual activity against our better judgment, we urge them to use a condom to protect themselves and their partner.

Condom availability:

(1) Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about issues of sexuality and the parents’ values relating to sexual behavior.

(2) Condoms will be available, upon request, to Province-town students.

(3) Appropriate counseling will be provided by trained faculty to each student seeking condoms.

(4) In order to protect student privacy, no records will be maintained relating to requests for condoms.

(5) The district will not honor requests from parents that students not be allowed to receive condoms.

Not-So-Mini-Roundup:Sharron Angle, Tea Party Senate candidate from Nevada, has gone on the record saying that abortion should not be permitted in cases of rape or incest because “God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.”

Pennsylvania is awaiting Governor Ed Rendell’s signature to become the eighth state to ban the shackling of incarcerated laboring and birthing women.

June 29

How will Kagan answer abortion question? – Bloomington Pantagraph

Feinstein grills Kagan on guns, abortion – OCRegister
Group pushes for investigation into telemedical abortion pill administration – UI The Daily Iowan

Kagan: Abortion Laws Must Protect Women’s Health – Huffington Post (blog)

New Jersey Legislature, Governor Christie Fight Over Funds to Abortion Centers – LifeNews.com

Senators urged not to repeal policy on abortions in military hospitals – The Catholic Transcript

Megyn Kelly gets it wrong on Kagan’s abortion rights record – Media Matters for America

What Stupak Hath Wrought – American Spectator

Nevada Tea Party Candidate Angle: No Abortion for Victims of Rape Or Incest – True/Slant

Senators Press Kagan on Military Recruiter Access, Abortion Rights – NewsHour

Blood test predicts age of menopause – Private MD

Christie’s Budget Cuts Spur Abortion Fight – FrumForum

A Man’s Birth Control Pill: Bright Pill – NewsBlaze

Scientists invent first birth control pill for men – National Post

Letter: Contraception against God’s plan – Dubuque Telegraph Herald

LETTER: Pro-life ads’ motives are questionable – Wausau Daily Herald

Developing a Once-a-Month Male Birth Control Pill? – TIME (blog)

RI officials: More doctors used unapproved IUDs – CNBC

Pakistan has highest maternal mortality rate – Frontier Post

Sharron Angle Opposes Abortion Even With Rape, Incest: ‘God Has A Plan’ (AUDIO) – Huffington Post (blog)

G8 revisits maternal and child deaths – Nature.com

In AIDS Battle, A New Focus on The Workplace – Jakarta Globe

Stem Cells for HIV Treatment – KCRG

Boston’s gay bank bought out – Bay Windows

The Funniest Sex Education Posters Of All Time (PICTURES) – Huffington Post (blog) (satire)

KwaZulu-Natal circumcision drive ‘to reduce HIV’ – Daily Dispatch Online

Prevention value of HIV testing of inmates shown – Providence Journal

Rights advocates ask court to allow sex course to push through – Newsbreak

Does a lover really have first claim on breasts? – Telegraph.co.uk

EXCLUSIVE: Bristol Palin Says Telling Mom She Was Pregnant Was ‘Harder Than … – FOXNews

Suit money goes to low-income maternal health care – Chicago Tribune

Reaching a Sisterhood of the Needy – New York Times

How bad are your past sins really? – CNN

House Passes Bill Banning Shackling Inmates During Childbirth – WHTM-TV

June 30

Coalition targets Latina teen pregnancy – San Antonio Express

After 50 years, the pill is still first choice for women – The Reporter

Apology issued over school condom policy – Cape Cod Times

Vets may have gotten HIV from hospital – CNN

Provincetown plays it safe, issues condom policy apology – Boston Herald

What? You Don’t Puree Your Own Baby Food? – Wall Street Journal (blog)

Educating girls in poor nations improves health – Vancouver Sun

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.