News Contraception

Kansas County Rejects State Funds for Contraception After Commissioner Conflates IUDs With Abortifacients

Teddy Wilson

Despite the fact that IUDs and other forms of contraception prevent pregnancy from occurring, and therefore cannot cause an abortion, Saline County Commissioner John Price said during a meeting Tuesday, “I think it is murder to take this [grant money]. To me it is murder, and I am not standing for it.”

A county in Kansas has rejected a state grant for contraceptives, after a county commissioner opposed the grant because he incorrectly considers intrauterine devices (IUDs) to be an abortifacient.

Commissioners voted 3 to 0 to reject the grant.

“I am not going to stand before my God, and he is going to point his finger and say, ‘You aborted those kids,” Saline County Commissioner John Price said during a meeting Tuesday, according to an Associated Press report. “I think it is murder to take this [grant money]. To me it is murder, and I am not standing for it.”

IUDs and other forms of contraception prevent pregnancy from occurring, and therefore cannot cause an abortion, as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains here.

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Price’s remarks comes just a few months after another Saline county commissioner, Jim Gile, was highly criticized for using a racial slur.

The state grant, worth $6,064 from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, would have provided long-acting, reversible contraceptives for county health department clients. Jeanette Peroli, a nurse practitioner with the Saline County Health Department, told the Salina Journal that there is a list of patients who are interested in receiving IUDs from the department.

Peroli said she had provided Price with information on why IUDs are not abortifacients but that Price was unconvinced.

“If they were to convince me, these doctors, I would feel different,” Price said. “I studied this real hard. I just feel it’s wrong. You can’t change my thoughts.”

News Law and Policy

ACLU of Indiana Sues State Health Department, County Prosecutors Over Ultrasound Law

Michelle D. Anderson

The official digest language for the law says that pregnant patients considering an abortion “must be given the opportunity to view the fetal ultrasound imaging and hear the auscultation of the fetal heart tone” at least 18 hours before an abortion.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood joined forces again on Thursday to challenge an anti-choice law that the organizations say will prove burdensome for reproductive clinics and their patients alike in Indiana.

The two parties filed a lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to challenge a provision of the omnibus HEA 1337, which requires an ultrasound at least 18 hours before an abortion procedure.

The official digest language for the law says that pregnant patients considering an abortion “must be given the opportunity to view the fetal ultrasound imaging and hear the auscultation of the fetal heart tone” at least 18 hours before an abortion. At the same time, the clinic must obtain the state-required “informed consent.”

The provision went into effect July 1. Prior to its enactment, Indiana law required an ultrasound but did not mandate the time at which the imaging had to be provided. As such, clinics typically performed ultrasounds right before the procedure.

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The plaintiffs claim the new law would require many patients to make two lengthy trips to obtain an abortion or pay for an overnight stay in order to receive care. This, Planned Parenthood officials said, would also burden its majority low-income clientele by causing them to lose at least a day of wages and by potentially requiring them to arrange special child care.

The law, the plaintiffs argue, would also cause clinics to become more crowded, delaying abortions to the point where some patients may not be able to receive care within Indiana’s legal limits. Indiana bans abortions after 20 weeks except when the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

Betty Cockrum, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, told the Indiana News Service the Supreme Court’s recent ruling against Texas’s omnibus anti-abortion bill, HB 2, opened the door for the organization to seek further review of Indiana’s laws.

In an official statement, Cockrum said the 18-hour ultrasound requirement was “unduly burdensome” and added no value to the state’s already restrictive abortion policies.

The 10-page lawsuit, which argues that there is no medical justification for an ultrasound 18 hours before an abortion, lists Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams and the prosecutors of Marion, Lake, Monroe, and Tippecanoe Counties as defendants.

As commissioner, Adams is the “duly appointed official” in charge of the agency responsible for licensing abortion clinics pursuant to Indiana law, the suit explains.

Similarly, the prosecutors of the four counties listed in the lawsuit, help enforce the laws that the four Planned Parenthood clinics that provide abortion care in Indiana must adhere to.

While Planned Parenthood has 23 health centers throughout the state, it only provides abortions in Bloomington, Merrillville, Indianapolis, and Lafayette.

Thursday’s lawsuit is the second legal action Planned Parenthood has taken against Indiana officials in recent weeks to challenge laws the health-care provider says could make securing abortion care cumbersome or impossible for state residents.

On June 30, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to block several provisions in HEA 1337 that would have kept a pregnant person from terminating a pregnancy when an abnormality, such as a life-threatening disability, is present in the fetus.

The lawsuit filed Thursday asks for the law to be blocked during the trial and until the court makes a decision, a declaration that the ultrasound provision is unconstitutional, and an monetary award for the plaintiff’s attorney fees.

News Contraception

Colorado County That Nixed Planned Parenthood Grant Rejects Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program

Jason Salzman

Garfield County is eschewing a successful contraceptive program in favor of the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), which focuses on “abstinence-focused comprehensive sexual health education.”

The same Colorado county that recently nixed a $1,500 grant for Planned Parenthood is now refusing to join a statewide program that has proven to be among the nation’s most effective in reducing teen pregnancy and abortions.

Garfield County is not part of the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, which is credited in large part for decreasing the state’s teen pregnancy and abortion rate by nearly 50 percent over six years despite continual Republican opposition to the program’s funding. The initiative provides intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other implants at low or no cost, but only in participating counties.

Garfield County eschews the contraceptive program in favor of the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), which focuses on “abstinence-focused comprehensive sexual health education.”

“[Garfield] Public Health has never administered this program because it would be a duplication of service,” Garfield County Public Health Special Projects Coordinator Carrie Godes wrote in an email to Rewire. “Though no agencies in Garfield County run a state (CDPHE) Family Planning program, Mountain Family Health Center and Planned Parenthood provide family planning services.”

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“We refer clients to these other providers if they come to us seeking family planning services,” Godes wrote. She did not respond to question about who was responsible for the decision to not be part of the state Family Planning Initiative.

Only Title X clinics can participate in the Family Planning Initiative. Since that does not include the providers cited by Godes, they do not have state funding to offer long acting reversible contraception (LARC) for free or reduced cost to low-income women and teens.

While Colorado’s teen pregnancy rate decreased by half from 2009 through 2014, Garfield’s rate increased from 13.6 percent to 19.6 percent from 2010 to 2013, then dropped to 9.6 percent in 2014, according to state data.

The Post Independent points to neighboring Eagle and Montrose counties, which are part of the state family planning program, showing significant reductions in teen pregnancy and abortion rates—well below Garfield County’s.

In an editorial, the Post Independent called on Garfield County commissioners to join Colorado’s pregnancy prevention program.

“Garfield County should embrace the state’s success and work to prevent more teen pregnancy, which drops the abortion rate, saves money and keeps teens from making their lives and their ill-conceived children’s lives immensely more difficult,” stated the editorial. “That’s pro-life, that’s fiscally sound, that’s level-headed leadership — unlike the symbolic political step of blocking a tiny grant and exacerbating division.”

Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, a Republican who led the local Planned Parenthood defunding effort, did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment. But he’s stated that family planning services are available in the area.

“It’s not that those services aren’t available,” Jankovsky told the Post Independent.

But as many scholars and health organizations have pointed out, community health clinics won’t be able to accommodate all patients in need if Planned Parenthood centers close their doors.

Organizers who launched an online fundraising campaign to replace the $1,500 grant withdrawn by Jankovsky and his fellow GOP county commissioners presented Planned Parenthood with a $25,000 check on Tuesday.