Monday MONITOR

Tuesday, January 17, 2012                                                                                                                            

Contact:  Michelle Trupiano – 573.424.8717 (c)

TWO BILLS SEEK TO MAKE MEDICATION ABORTION INACCESSIBLE

     Rep. Andrew Koenig (R-88) and Sen. Scott Rupp (R-02) have filed HB1274 and SB658, respectively, aimed at making access to medication abortion (sometimes referred to as RU486) more onerous.  Rupp’s bill amending chapter 188, prohibits physicians from following the evidence based, preferred regimen and requires all medication be administered in the physical presence of the physician in a hospital or an ambulatory surgical center despite the fact that dispensing two pills is not a surgical procedure.  Both bills bar the option of telemedicine despite demonstrated and non-invasive safety of medication abortion as a procedure.  Rep. Koenig’s bill requires additional, unnecessary visits with the physician, a physical exam by the physician 24-hours in advance, unattainable hospital privileges and increased insurance levels.  These bills are not about protecting women, women’s health, or families in Missouri, but represent election year posturing.

REFUSAL LANGUAGE EXPANDED FOR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS

     Sen. Rupp also filed SB657, a bill that expands and enumerates ‘conscience’ exemptions for medical professionals. The bill allows “medical professionals” (broadly defined to include clinic employees, students, or housekeeping staff) and “health care institutions” of every configuration to refuse to provide any “medical service” for a patient to which they have a “moral” objection. The bill allows “professionals” to refuse to provide life-saving services ranging from diagnosis to blood drawing to lab research into human cloning. The bill explicitly lists contraception and abortion and would allow these “professionals” to refuse to prescribe and dispense birth control including denying survivors of sexual assault access to emergency contraception in the Emergency Room.

SEN. SCHAAF INTRODUCES BILL TO DECRIMINALIZE BREAST-FEEDING IN PUBLIC

     Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-34), a family physician, introduced SB639 that would strengthen Missouri’s law giving women the right to breast-feed or pump breast milk in public. The bill prohibits municipalities from restricting that right and excuse breast-feeding women from jury duty. While PPMO regularly opposes Sen. Schaaf’s votes in support of proposals to harm women’s health, we applaud this pro-women’s health bill.

WE CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF DR. KING & RECOMMIT TO FIGHTING REPRODUCTIVE RACISM

     As we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and prepare for February’s Black History Month, PPMO anticipates a resurgence of the racist anti-abortion campaign that raised its ugly head—again—last spring.  With racist billboards, college newspaper inserts, revisionist DVDs, and ‘caravans’ through the South, this coordinated campaign is not about the health and well-being of Black women, their families, or our communities.  The following is excerpted from ‘No Conspiracy Theories Needed’ (Susan Cohen, August 5 2011).

     “The [racist billboard] campaign does not decry the fact that black women for the past five decades have consistently suffered an almost four times greater risk of death from pregnancy complications than have white women. Or the fact that black women are30% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women are. No, the campaign is not aimed at promoting black women’s health or protecting them from disease—it is aimed at protecting them from themselves. It is an anti-abortion campaign carrying an insidious message not merely that abortion is wrong, but that since it is wrong, black women could not possibly be making choices about their own reproductive lives for themselves. It is premised on the false notion that providers of abortion care are aggressively marketing their services to minority communities and that women – especially African-American women -- are overly susceptible to their power of persuasion. The campaign uses some facts and fabricates others to concoct a narrative that bears no resemblance to the reality of women’s lives, especially women of color. The inconvenient truth in this debate is that this line of attack against reproductive rights is not only insulting to black women’s autonomy; it ignores the fundamental reason women have abortions and the underlying problem of racial and ethnic disparities across an array of health indicators. […]

     “What is clear is that black women—as with all women—armed with accurate information and the ability to access necessary services, are eminently qualified and indeed entitled to make decisions about their own health and welfare including whether or not have an abortion to end an unwanted pregnancy as well as the means to prevent that unintended pregnancy in the first place. No one has said it more eloquently recently than Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), who earlier this year lambasted those on the floor of the House of Representatives during debate over a provision in the government-wide spending bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood that somehow devolved into the debate over marketing abortion to black women. “I am really touched by the passion of the [opposition] to want to save black babies,” she began. “I can tell you, I know a lot about having black babies. I’ve had three of them. And I had my first one when I was 18 years old…an unplanned pregnancy.” Thrust onto welfare, Moore eventually beat the odds, having now represented Milwaukee in Congress since2005. So she spoke from whence she came when she argued that black women—all women— need to be trusted as well as supported. “It is important for women to have a choice,” she said, “to have an opportunity to plan their families.”

NEW BIRTH CONTROL BENEFIT TO BE AT RISK

Springfield News Leader | LTE by Amanda Henemyre | January 11, 2012 

     As a college student, I struggle to pay for everything. Between rent, utilities, food and textbooks, I don't have a lot of money. I have to make sacrifices and budget accordingly. I don't have a lot of "means," but I live within them. When the Department of Health and Human Services made its decision ... to require new health insurance plans to cover birth control as preventive care, and therefore make it available without co-pay, I was thrilled. I didn't agree with everything in the health care reform package, but I certainly agreed with no-cost birth control. For young women like me, the HHS decision is huge. Birth control with no co-pays could free up $50 a month for women if they use a method like the pill. Others could save hundreds of dollars if they went with a method like an IUD. When you don't have a lot of money to spare, every dollar counts.

     Now some Republicans are trying to undermine the HHS decision and take this benefit away. I was disappointed when I heard that U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., recently held a hearing designed to repeal the HHS decision. Young women have barely had a chance to breathe a sigh of relief at the HHS decision -- and now it's already being threatened! This move makes absolutely no sense to me. Using contraception is an individual choice and an individual right. Not everyone uses hormonal birth control for contraceptive purposes. Some women take it to treat certain conditions, such as ovarian cysts. Your school or your employer should not be able to dictate whether you have access to contraception.

     I'm working hard now to get ahead later. I don't want to get pregnant now. I want to make sure that I have the means to support children before I have them. With the economy the way that it is, I don't expect that to happen anytime soon. I delayed having sex until I was ready. When I did have sex, I made sure that my partner and I had the information necessary to protect ourselves. Women of all faiths -- yes, even Catholics -- use birth control and would benefit from the HHS decision. Ninety-nine percent of women in the U.S. use birth control at some point in their lives, including 98 percent of Catholic women. Birth control is an essential part of women's preventive health care. All students should be able to benefit from the new health care reform law, even students at religious institutions. Students of all faiths attend Catholic colleges. While the people in charge may have certain beliefs, it's unfair to deny no co-pay birth control to students whose religious beliefs don't forbid the use of contraception. The Republicans who are attempting to repeal or weaken the HHS decision need to understand that this decision will have a real and positive impact on millions of women who are struggling to make ends meet. Everyone should benefit from the new health care reform law, no matter where they go to school.

UPCOMING EVENTS TO CELEBRATE ROE V. WADE

St. Louis:  A Happy Hour reception with the Freedom of Choice Council featuring 4000 Years For Choice, an art exhibit “celebrating the roots of contraception and abortion” Friday, January 20th 5:30-7:30pm at 916 Olive Street. Choose your contribution level: $10, $25, $50 or more if you can. For more info: angie.postal@ppslr.org

Kansas City:  Featuring community activist, blogger and columnist, Pamela Merritt, and a film screening of We Always Resist: Trust Black Women, a documentary by SisterSong and Trust Black Women Wednesday, January 25th 6:30-8:30pm at the PPKM administrative offices in Overland Park, Kansas. Info/RSVP: vicky.leitnaker@ppkm.org or 913.312.5100 x228 or http://bit.ly/PPKMRoeEvent

Springfield: “2012 Champion for Choice” honoring superstar volunteer, Lois Woods. Wednesday, January 25th, 7:00pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2434 E Battlefield. Tickets $10-$35 (your choice); refreshments, entertainment & raffle items!  crystal.brigman@ppslr.org

FIRST PRO-CHOICE COALITION LOBBY DAY—Tuesday, February 7

Facebook:  PPMO Advocates | Twitter: @PPMO_Advocates

www.ppmissouri.org