Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Texas Legislative Session: Coulda Been Worse!

Shut the front door! Texas Republican legislators did bring the crazy, they couldn't seem to get it out of committee. As reported in the San Antonio Express-News, at least 24 anti-choice bills and several more affecting contraception were filed but failed to pass this session. Highlights include:
  • HB 2364: banning abortions after 20 weeks based on the medically unsubstantiated claim of fetal pain;
  • SB 537: mandating that clinics providing abortion care adhere to the standards of general, outpatient surgery centers;
  • SB 1198: forcing abortion providers to gaining admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice, the OG of TRAP bills; and
  • HB 649: AKA "The Hobby Lobby Bill", indemnifying private businesses for any penalties incurred for flouting contraceptive health insurance requirement under the Affordable Care Act.
None of these made it onto Governor Hair's desk for signature, thank goodness! AND, the Texas Legislature got it together to restore funding for women's healthcare. Granted, the workaround involved the Democrats conceding that Planned Parenthood remains ineligible for state funding, and the federal government disbursing Title X funds through non-state entities. But, there's no denying this is a victory for the thousands of Texans who raised holy hell over the sonogram/waiting period/crisis pregnancy/wholesale defunding of women's healthcare clusterf*ck that was the 2012 session.

So, today's $5 is for the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, which works hard to ensure that Texas women have access to complete medical care.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Plan B Lawsuit: Grassroots Activism

Here's an inspiring article from the Miami Herald about the nine plaintiffs who are suing to force the FDA to permit over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception. Today's $5 is for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing them.

Carolina Crazyfight

It's getting real in the Carolinas this week, with a serious crazy-off between North and South.

South Carolina looked to make a big splash by re-electing creepy Mark Sanford to Congress. The heavily Republican First District chose a man currently charged with violating a court order to stay out of his ex-wife's house over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Bush. But will he celebrate his victory by hiking the Appalachian Trail?

North Carolina will see that challenge and raise you two houses of state legislators just a-rarin' to draft some crazy laws.
  • The NC House passed a bill forbidding doctors to perform gender-selective abortions. Because nothing promotes a healthy doctor-patient relationship like the threat of a $100,000 penalty for failing to correctly guess patient intent.
  • The Senate did its part by mandating that children be taught the science fact that having an abortion increases the likelihood of premature birth later in life. Spoiler alert: not true.
  • The House is still deliberating a law, which would prevent a doctor from treating sexually transmitted infections, dispensing contraception or even performing a pregnancy test on a teenager without her parent's consent:
No physician licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina shall perform an abortion upon an unemancipated minor or provide medical health services for an unemancipated minor for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of (i) venereal diseases and other diseases reportable under G.S. 130A‑135, (ii) abuse of controlled substances or alcohol, (iii) emotional disturbance, or (iv) pregnancy unless the physician or agent thereof or another physician or agent thereof first obtains the written consent of the minor and the written consent, acknowledged in accordance with Chapter 10B of the General Statutes, of:
(1)        A parent with custody of the minor; or
(2)        The legal guardian or legal custodian of the minor . . .
Game, set, match! North Carolina, FTW!

Sure, they included a judicial bypass provision. Because a scared kid totally has the time and skills to navigate the legal system when she needs to be tested for STIs and feels she can't tell her parents.

This last provision got me thinking about what legal rights kids have to access reproductive health services under the law. Title X mandates confidential access in federally funded programming. But in private healthcare, state law governs. And state law is getting more and more restrictive. Take a look at these charts from the Guttmacher Institute's website.

The first shows a state-by-state breakdown of laws governing minors' access to abortion and contraception in 2005.

Parental Involvement in Minors' Access to Abortion and Contraceptive Services
Dist. of ColumbiaMCMC
New HampshirePELMC
New JerseyPELMC
New MexicoPEMC
New YorkNLMC
North CarolinaPCMC
North DakotaPC‡NL
Rhode IslandPCNL
South CarolinaPCLMC
South DakotaPNLMC
West VirginiaPN†LMC
Notes: MC=Minor explicitly allowed to consent; LMC=Minor explicitly allowed to consent in limited circumstances (such as if married, a parent, pregnant or older than a specified age); PN=Parental notice required; PC= Parental consent required; NL=No explicit law or policy; PE=Law permanently enjoined.

*Minor may obtain an abortion upon meeting specified counseling requirements. †Allows specified health professionals to waive parental involvement if judge is unavailable. ‡Requires the involvement of both parents. §State funds may not be used to provide minors with confidential contraceptive services. For more detail, see Guttmacher Institute, Parental involvement in minors' abortions, State Policies in Brief, October 2005, and Guttmacher Institute, Minors' access to contraceptive services, State Policies in Brief, October 2005, available at .

And, here's a similar Guttmacher chart from this year. (Forgive the screenshot.)

Depressing. Today's $5 is for the Guttmacher Institute. Thanks for the (gloomy) data.