News Abortion

Award Ceremony Honors Abortion Providers

Martha Kempner

Monday evening, Physicians for Reproductive Health honored two abortion providers, Dr. Eve Espey and Dr. Willie Parker, for their unwavering support of abortion rights at the Rashbaum-Tiller Awards Ceremony.

Monday evening, Physicians for Reproductive Health honored two abortion providers, Dr. Eve Espey and Dr. Willie Parker, for their unwavering support of abortion rights at the Rashbaum-Tiller Awards Ceremony.

Eve Espey, MD, MPH is professor of obstetrics and gynecology, associate dean of students, and chief of the Family Planning Division at the University of New Mexico. She has won numerous teaching awards from medical students, including—twice—the Khatali Award for best clinical teacher in the School of Medicine, the highest medical student award at the University of New Mexico.

Dr. Espey received the William K. Rashbaum award Monday for providing outstanding abortion services and for serving as an inspirational leader for colleagues, medical students, and residents. The award was named after William K. Rashbaum a passionate physician who saved many women from botched abortion procedures before legalization and went on to train many providers in safe procedures once abortion was legalized in New York. Dr. Rashbaum died in 2005 at age 79.

In receiving this award Dr. Espey said: “In places like New Mexico, barriers are magnified, hurdles are higher and challenges are more daunting. When I am sitting bruised in my chair in the ring, from threats from Operation Rescue, from opposition in the hospital. … [I’m reminded] there is no more important work than helping women realize their potential through access to reproductive health care.”

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The other award of the night went to Willie Parker MD, MPH, MSc, who until recently was medical director of Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington. Parker’s recent work has focused on violence against women, sexual assault, male responsibility in family planning, and women’s reproductive health rights through advocacy and the provision of contraception and abortion services.

Dr. Parker received the George Tiller, MD award, which recognizes a physician early in his or her career who provides abortions while demonstrating leadership and courage, even in the face of adversity. The award was named after Dr. George Tiller an abortion provider, who was killed by an anti-choice terrorist in 2009.

In receiving his award, Dr. Parker said simply, “We who provide abortions do so because our patients need us, and that’s what we are supposed to do: respond to the needs of our patients.”

The event was hosted by actress and women’s rights activist Martha Plimptom. Physicians for Reproductive Health is a doctor-led national advocacy organization that promotes sound reproductive health policies. The organization’s president, Jodi Magee, also spoke.

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 Law and Policy

Court Blocks Two Extreme Alabama Anti-Abortion Provisions

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The temporary order prevents officials in Alabama from enforcing a ban on later abortions and implementing a law that would regulate abortion clinics in a similar fashion as sex offenders.

A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked two Alabama abortion restrictions set to take effect August 1 that would ban abortion clinics near schools and criminalize the most commonly used later abortion procedure.

In May, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) signed into law a ban on abortion clinics within 2,000 feet of public K-8 schools. He also approved a separate measure banning the most common method of performing a later abortion, known as dilation and evacuation, or D&E, abortions.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged both provisions on behalf of providers in the state, arguing they were unconstitutional. According to attorneys for the ACLU, the location restriction would close the state’s two busiest abortion clinics, while the method ban would hamper access to later abortions.

The first blocked measure would prohibit the Alabama Department of Public Health from issuing or renewing a health center license to an abortion clinic or reproductive health center close to some public schools. As reported by Rewire, this would effectively regulate abortion clinics in the same manner as registered sex offenders. In Alabama, sex offenders cannot reside within 2,000 feet of a school or child-care facility.

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The second blocked measure would outlaw most surgical abortions. Dilation and evacuation, the most common form of surgical abortion, is used in the majority of abortions after 13 weeks of pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It is extremely safe, with less than one in 1,000 patients experiencing complications.

Dr. Willie Parker, a physician who provides later abortions in Alabama, wrote in a statement to the court that, if allowed to take effect, the law would prevent him from performing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

According to Dr. Parker’s submission to the court, the only alternative to D&E is to induce labor in a hospital, a much riskier and expensive alternative for the patient.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order to block the state from enforcing the provisions until after an October 4 hearing. In the meantime, both sides were ordered to submit written arguments to the court in advance of that October hearing.

Alabama is not the only state to attack later abortion access. Kansas and Oklahoma both passed similar bans, but those laws remain blocked by court order.