Articles about Abortion
[From Jessica Mason Pieklo, Senior Legal Analyst, RH Reality Check, at RH Reality Check.]
The trial over a Wisconsin law that requires abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital or face prosecution came to a close last week, with federal District Court Judge William Conley expressing both frustration at the law and the inability of those challenging it to explain why area hospitals were not responding to admitting privileges requests.
Like admitting privileges requirements passed in states like Texas, Alabama, North Dakota, Mississippi, and Louisiana, supporters of the requirement in SB 206, which has been on hold since July, insist the law is necessary to protect patient safety.In support of that claim attorneys for the state offered the testimony of Lena Wood, an Oshkosh woman who claimed she was hospitalized after becoming ill following an abortion nearly 20 years ago and that her provider never followed up with her. Wood, an anti-choice activist, admitted under cross-examination that she did not understand her medical records, and there were no facts to back up her assertion that it was the abortion that had caused her hospitalization.
The state’s second witness in support of the law was James Linn, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Columbia St. Mary’s and advisor to Wisconsin Right to Life, the main group supporting the law. During his testimony, Linn said he hoped Affiliated Medical Services in Milwaukee—one the providers challenging the law—would close so that fewer legal abortions would be performed in the state. The clinic, the only one in the state that performs abortions beyond 19 weeks, faces closure under the law because its doctors have so far been unable to obtain the required admitting privileges. Judge Conley said he was “bewildered” by the fact that local hospitals had not yet stated whether they would grant privileges to Affiliated Medical Services providers and ordered the parties to continue to pursue privileges, indicating he would order the hospital to respond if they continued to evade the request. One of those providers, Dr. Dennis Christensen, testified he had been pursuing admitting privileges at two Milwaukee hospitals for months but had not had any response from the hospitals. Christensen testified he believed the lack of response from the hospitals is connected to the hospital credentialing officials’ demand for information on patients he has treated in a hospital. Christensen testified he has no such data to provide in response to their demand because he hasn’t treated an abortion patient in a hospital for at least a decade.
“The fact that we’ve managed to keep our patients out of the hospital appears to be a detriment to getting hospital privileges,” he said.
A ruling on whether or not the law will go into effect is not expected from Judge Conley for at least a month, and in the meantime he ordered the parties to continue to pursue obtaining hospital privileges. Should providers be able to obtain those privileges, it could resolve, at least temporarily, the legal challenge. That was the case in North Dakota, where the state’s only abortion clinic faced closure under the state’s admitting privileges requirement. But just as a trial over the constitutionality of North Dakota’s law was about to begin, Sanford Health, a Dakotas-based health-care system, granted admitting privileges to the providers, prompting attorneys for the state and those challenging the law to reach a settlement and end the legal challenge. At the close of last week’s trial, Judge Conley suggested a similar possibility for Wisconsin, noting he was troubled by the inflexibility of the law.
“I’m being asked to strike down a law,” said Conley. “I take no pleasure in that. If there’s a way to get privileges short of that you should do that.”
From Catholics for Choice.
“We welcome Pope Francis,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, “and look forward to hearing about his priorities in the coming days. We do not expect very many changes, but sincerely hope that the culture will change to better reflect the needs of the church and of Catholics. As Cardinal Bergoglio, he was outspoken against the recent liberalization of Argentinian laws on abortion, stating flatly that ‘abortion is never a solution.’ He also opposes adoption by gay couples. But this is no surprise, as he and his fellow electors were all appointed by his two conservative predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.
“We recall with fondness Pope John XXIII, who confronted the troubles of his day by convening the Second Vatican Council ‘to open the windows of the church to let in some fresh air.’ Pope Francis needs to go even farther and throw open the Vatican’s doors to shed some light on a bureaucracy that has allowed the management of the Vatican Bank and the sexual abuse crisis to get completely out of hand. Facing this reality, and the other problems within the church, requires leadership, and leadership is something different than simply referring back to the established Vatican playbook. This is where we could use a pastoral pope, one who recognizes that the main role of the hierarchy is not to become enmeshed in politics but to focus on developing relationships within and outside the Catholic community.
“We call on Pope Francis to recognize that he is now the head of a very diverse church, one that includes Catholics who use contraception, who have or provide abortions, who seek fertility treatments, who engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage or with people of the same sex, as well as people who are living with HIV & AIDS. These Catholics are absolute traditionalists in that they live according to their consciences and by virtue of their faith every day. A leader of our church who affirms rather than denies the lived wisdom of the faithful would be well within the Catholic tradition as well.”
Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women’s well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives.
MADISON – Today, following news that state budget cuts have forced the closure of four Wisconsin Planned Parenthood clinics, Jenni Dye, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin said that anti-choice legislative attacks are undermining access to healthcare.
Planned Parenthood’s closure of the Johnson Creek, Shawano, Chippewa Falls, and Beaver Dam clinics means that women in these areas will be without reproductive healthcare in their communities. Women will be forced to drive farther or go without basic care, such as wellness exams and birth control.
“Limiting access to basic preventative care, like birth control, is the natural end result of anti-choice attacks on women’s reproductive rights and health clinics such as Planned Parenthood, such as the elimination of state funding we saw last session, ” said Dye. “This is a huge loss not only for the people in the communities directly affected by clinic closures but for all of Wisconsin. We must work together to ensure that all Wisconsinites have access to basic healthcare.”
The clinic closures come just one week after Governor Walker’s announcement that he is turning down resources to expand Medicaid. “Politicians at the Capitol are playing politics with our health, and their game has very real consequences for Wisconsinites. It is time for our elected officials to put politics aside and ensure that all Wisconsinites have access in their communities to healthcare that they choose,” said Dye.
MADISON- Today Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced the closure of four family planning health centers in Shawano, Chippewa Falls, Johnson Creek and Beaver Dam between April and July of this year. These closures are a direct consequence of the Legislature’s elimination of funding benefiting patients at Planned Parenthood in the last budget cycle. Over the past year, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin worked to minimize the impact of the Legislature’s significant budget cuts on our patients. Despite efforts to sustain services to these patients for over a year without state funding, Planned Parenthood has been forced to end health care services in these four health centers. These unfortunate health center closures will result in the disruption and a loss of over 11,400 health care services for approximately 2,000 patients including lifesaving cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control, annual exams, pregnancy tests, STD testing and treatment, HIV screening, and referrals to a network of community resources. Planned Parenthood will maintain health care services in 23 health centers across the state.
“For 78 years, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has been providing high quality health care including lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams, birth control, and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections to approximately 80,000 women and families in 27 health centers across Wisconsin,” said Deb Bonilla, Vice President of Patient Services. “Continued patient care is our top priority. Health center staff are working with the affected patients to identify health care alternatives to minimize the impact of these closures.”
Nearly 165,000 Wisconsin women who are in need of publicly supported reproductive & sexual health services go without needed health care. Despite this unmet need, during the last budget cycle Governor Walker ended state funding for 12,000 women who receive health care at Planned Parenthood. This coupled with the Governor’s recent rejection of federal funds and the resulting drastic rollback of BadgerCare coverage will increase the amount of women who do not have access to health care. These politically motivated actions will have a significant impact on women seeking affordable health care.
“Women are going to have to drive even longer distances just to get basic health care like wellness exams, cancer screenings and birth control,” said Deb Bonilla, Vice President of Patient Services. “We are doing all we can to ensure that women get the care they need, but in some instances the resulting barriers to care will make health care access very difficult.”
In all four of these communities, Planned Parenthood is the only reproductive health provider. Uninsured or financially constrained patients seeking health care will need to travel outside of their county and in some instances up to an hour to receive essential health care services. For some women, this added burden could make the difference in whether they access routine cancer screens, STD tests, treatment or birth control.
“Cutting funds and turning away resources tied to the Medicaid program when people are going without essential health care will negatively impact community health and cost taxpayers’ money,” said Nicole Safar, Public Policy Director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. “Barriers to preventative and lifesaving diagnostic health care will most certainly result in an increase of the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions, undetected cancer occurrences and higher STD/HIV rates. This year we will be watching closely to see what impact this budget will have on Wisconsin communities and the women and families that rely on Planned Parenthood.”
At Planned Parenthood, we remain unwavering in our belief that all people deserve access to high quality and affordable health care. As the state’s largest non-profit reproductive health care provider, we will continue to be there for our patients to provide affordable and quality health care and to advocate on their behalf to keep them safe, healthy and strong – no matter what.
Governor Scott Walker and the Republican controlled Legislature eliminated funding for patients accessing reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood in the 2011-2013 Biennial State Budget. The services provided by Planned Parenthood include birth control counseling and options, lifesaving cervical and breast cancer screenings, annual exams, STD testing and treatment, Well Women Exams, pregnancy testing, HIV testing, and colposcopies (advanced cervical cancer tests).
Investing in women’s health is a non-partisan issue as it contributes to healthy women, men and families for Wisconsin while saving taxpayers’ money. For every $1 spent on family planning taxpayers save $4 (The Guttmacher Institute).
The elimination of state funding to Planned Parenthood in 2012 resulted in the loss of funding in 9 of Planned Parenthood’s 27 family planning health centers in Kenosha, Winnebago, Eau Claire, Shawano, Wood, Chippewa Falls, Dodge, Fond du lac, and Jefferson Counties. These health centers serve 12,000 women each year and in 8 of the 9 counties Planned Parenthood is the ONLY family planning provider.
According to the latest data, there are 282,000 women in Wisconsin in need of publicly funded reproductive health care services. Current provider networks and funding sources provide care for only 95,000 patients. The vast majority of these patients do not have access to affordable health insurance and receive assistance from various public funding sources to access this basic care.
In 2008, the network of family planning providers in Wisconsin averted 24,300 unintended pregnancies, 12,100 abortions and saved taxpayers $94 million in averted health care costs.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is closing 4 health centers in Beaver Dam, Shawano, Johnson Creek and Chippewa Falls. Health center staff at the four affected health centers have been serving the communities for decades: Beaver Dam 1977, Chippewa Falls 1984, Shawano 1979, and Johnson Creek 1999.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin health centers will close on the following dates: Shawano April 19; Chippewa Falls May 17; Beaver Dam June 14; Johnson Creek July 19.
These four health centers provide birth control counseling and options, lifesaving cervical and breast cancer screenings, annual exams, STD testing and treatment, Well Women Exams, pregnancy testing, HIV testing and referrals to a network of community resources.
In just the last 10 years these four health centers have provided services to 26,951 patients.
PPWI’s Role as the Leading Provider of Women’s and Reproductive Health in Wisconsin
For 78 years, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has been the leading reproductive health care provider in the state. PPWI provided essential health care services like cervical and breast cancer screenings, wellness exams, STD testing and treatment, and birth control education and services to 80,000 patients in 2012.
[From our friend Jennifer Dalven at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project]
Forty years ago today, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that recognized that a pregnant woman has a right to make her own decision about whether to have a child or have an abortion. Since then, some politicians have been trying to take that decision out of a woman’s hands. But over the past two years, these efforts have reached record levels. In those two short years, our elected representatives found the time to pass almost 140 provisions designed to interfere with a woman and her family’s private decision about abortion.
If you’ve had the feeling things have been getting worse, you are right. In fact, more than half of all American women now live in a state where the legislature is hostile to a woman’s access to abortion. (That’s up from less 1/3 just a decade ago).
Now, of course, we don’t all feel the same way about abortion and we don’t have to. But we should be able to agree that this incredibly important and personal decision is better made by a woman, her family, and her doctor than by politicians sitting in the state legislature or on Capitol Hill.
Indeed, the American people have shown they don’t want politicians to interfere in personal, private decision-making. Who can say whether it was the bills that require a woman to have an ultrasound and look at the picture before she has an abortion? Or that all-male panel that testified before Congress about whether a woman’s insurance plan should cover her contraception? Or that telling comment about “legitimate rape?” Or perhaps it was those 140 new restrictions? Regardless of what the tipping point was, one thing is clear: the American people have had enough.
This year, across the country, people came together to speak out against these restrictions and those who pushed them. In states like Virginia, Oklahoma, Michigan,and Idaho, women and men took time out of their busy lives to go to their state capitols and tell their representatives to leave these decisions where they belong: with a woman and her family.
And these folks aren’t just talking, they are voting. Recently, voters in states as diverse as Mississippi (yes, Mississippi!) and Colorado, Florida and North Dakota all rejected ballot measures that would have interfered with a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about pregnancy and abortion. And this year, politicians with extreme views on abortion lost at the polls, even in conservative states. In fact, Americans are so fed up with politicians trying to interfere with a woman’s private health care decision, that a Gallup poll found that 39 percent of women in 12 battleground states said abortion was the most important issue for women in the election.
Incredibly, however, some politicians still haven’t gotten the message. Right after the election, in a lame-duck session in Michigan, with the public locked out of the statehouse, politicians snuck through onerous and unnecessary regulations on women’s health centers. And, over the holidays, the governor of Virginia quietly advanced new restrictions designed to shut down all women’s health centers in the state – you know, the very restrictions that the Health Commissioner resigned over because they were based on politics rather than protecting a woman’s health.
These stealth attacks notwithstanding, two things haven’t changed. First, Americans have had enough of politicians trying to take that decision away from a woman and her family. Second, if we continue to speak out, we can stem this tide. We can stop politicians from interfering in a woman’s private health care decisions. We can get them back to working for American women and their families instead of against them. Forty years after Roe, it’s about time.
By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS, Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi’s only abortion clinic missed a Friday deadline to comply with a 2012 state law that requires each of its physicians to get hospital admitting privileges — a law the governor said he signed with the hopes of shutting the clinic down.
The state Health Department won’t immediately close the clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The department will set an inspection later, and if it orders a shutdown, the clinic can appeal.
Clinic administrator Diane Derzis said every Jackson-area hospital where the clinic applied for privileges said no.
“They were clear that they didn’t deal with abortion and they didn’t want the internal or the external pressure of dealing with it,” Derzis told The Associated Press in a phone interview Friday.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said repeatedly that he wants Mississippi to be abortion-free.
“My goal, of course, is to shut it down,” Bryant said Thursday. “Now, we’ll follow the laws. The bill is in the courts now, related to the physicians and their association with a hospital. But, certainly, if I had the power to do so legally, I’d do so tomorrow.”
The law requires anyone doing abortions in a clinic to be an OB-GYN with privileges to admit patients to a hospital near the facility where the abortions are done. The clinic filed a lawsuit last summer. U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III gave the facility time to try to comply with the law, blocking any criminal or civil penalties while the clinic tried to do so.
Admitting privileges can be difficult to obtain. Some hospitals won’t issue them to out-of-state physicians, while hospitals that are affiliated with religious groups might not want to associate with anyone who does elective abortions.
One of the clinic’s four physicians has admitting privileges, but the clinic said in court papers that he does little work at the clinic and he had the privileges before the new law took effect last July. The other three don’t have privileges.
Even if the clinic’s physicians don’t have admitting privileges, a patient can be transferred from the clinic to a hospital emergency room, if needed. The clinic has said the customary practice is for a hospital to remain in contact with the physician who transferred the patient to the emergency room, regardless of whether that physician has admitting privileges at the hospital.
In November, the clinic asked Jordan to extend its time to comply with the law. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood on Friday filed a 35-page response, saying the law should take full effect because it’s designed to protect patients’ safety.
“Two federal circuit courts have expressly found that ‘admitting privileges at local hospitals and referral arrangements with local expert’ are ‘so obviously beneficial to patients’ undergoing abortions as to easily withstand a facial constitutional challenge alleging them to be undue burdens,” Hood wrote.
No hearing has been set for Jordan to consider the competing requests.
Bryant’s comments about wanting to shut the clinic came in response to reporters’ questions after he spoke to several dozen pastors at a Pro-Life Mississippi luncheon, where people talked about holding church services outside the clinic for 40 days to mark the coming 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.
The clinic is about two miles north of the state Capitol building, in a trendy neighborhood with restaurants, art galleries and clothing stores. It’s a nondescript mauve building separated from a street by an iron fence woven with the type of heavy black vinyl that’s used for easy-clean restaurant tablecloths.
Outside the clinic Friday, small groups of people prayed, sang hymns and tried to talk to women as they entered or left.
“Any county you’re from, there is help available for you folks,” Cal Zastrow of Jackson called out to a woman as she walked to her car to leave.
“I’m not pregnant,” the woman replied tersely.
Zastrow’s 19-year-old daughter, Corrie, said her family has prayed outside abortion clinics since she was a small child. She said they once helped persuade a woman in Michigan not to have an abortion, and the woman later gave birth to twins.
“Holding that little baby was just incredible,” Corrie Zastrow said.
At the Capitol Friday, Democratic Rep. Steve Holland said he was frustrated by conservative lawmakers’ continuing efforts to restrict abortion.
“Until Roe v. Wade is reversed, that subject should never come up in the Legislature again,” he said.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Only-Miss-abortion-clinic-can-t-comply-with-law-4187469.php#ixzz2Hy6BsuRJ