Monday, February 25, 2013
RECAP: SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARING ON SB50, SB84, AND SB175
On Monday February 18th, SB84, SB50 and SB175 were heard in the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal
SB84 (Rupp, R-2) Expansion of Medical Refusal Provision (including denial of contraception)
This bill specifically singles out women’s reproductive health care, including information and access to emergency contraception for rape survivors, for refusal of care. The bill would only allow an employer to take action against a refusing employee in the case of denial of care in a life-threatening case.
Dr. Ed Wesbart testified against this bill stating, “I wish, as a physician, I could always tell when I am facing a life-threatening situation. But I can’t. And that’s one of the problems when we try to legislate medical practice.”
Dr. Wesbart went on to share a story about a young woman, in St. Louis, who became pregnant after surviving a rape at gun point in the late 1980s. At this time emergency contraception was not on the market. This woman experienced a deep depression after she found out she was pregnant and took her life four months into her pregnancy.
Excerpt from Dr. Wesbart’s testimony: “Finally, about four months into the pregnancy, Brenda killed herself. I had had no idea that the rape was going to lead directly to Brenda’s death. No one in the emergency room realized that they were treating a life-threatening situation….I honestly don’t know if access to an emergency contraceptive would have made any difference for her. I don’t know if she would have chosen to do that. But I do know that she should have been the only person making that decision. I knew her pretty well, and yet my own values had nothing to do with her choices. And for god’s sake, your personal values as legislators should have even less. To even think that a physician should have the right to not tell a rape victim about emergency contraception violates the core ethical basis of medicine. They are ethically required to respect patient autonomy, to treat their patients in the manner dictated by the patient’s values, not the physician’s.”
SB50 (Wallingford, R-27) Hypocrisy of Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRC). This bill ensures Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) can NEVER be regulated by any political sub-division. PRCs are on record providing false and misleading information to vulnerable women and are currently not required to provide medically factual or accurate information. This bill would place PRCs outside the law. Supporters of this bill claimed at the hearing that “pro-abortion” organizations have intentionally pushed for city ordinances to regulate these organizations. Senator Jolie Justus made the point that because these PRCs receive state tax credits and are included in the state’s line item budget, it is imperative that they are regulated especially as they claim to provide medical care. Angie Postal of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region and Southwest Missouri shared stories of PRCs misleading tactics to lure Planned Parenthood patients to their large bus parked across the street. The PRC volunteers attempt to intercept Planned Parenthood patients before they enter our health centers by placing signs that read “Sign in Here” and suggest that their mobile van is part of the health center. Dr. Colleen McNicholas shared two stories of patients that had come to her after first going to a PRC. Both stories detailed the misinformation and aggressive proselytizing as a form of coercion that the women encountered at the PRCs. In one case, the medical misinformation put a women’s life at risk after the PRC ultrasound did not identify an ectopic pregnancy. The young woman was sent away believing she was not pregnant and unaware of her life-threatening condition. Luckily the patient went to a hospital to seek proper, regulated medical care and survived, but lost one of her fallopian tubes.
SB175 (Wallingford, R-27) Restriction on Non-Surgical Abortion. This bill would make access to non-surgical abortion (sometimes referred to as RU486) more onerous. SB175 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. Dr. Colleen McNicholas testified against the bill stating in part, “In addition to creating significant barriers for women, the requirement is medically unjustified and unnecessary. It is an inappropriate intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship and completely disregards patient autonomy, a cornerstone of medical ethics. There is no legitimate medical reason for this requirement, leading me to conclude that the real purpose behind this bill is to discourage women from using a safe, effective and legal method of early abortion….This bill adds an unnecessary visit meaning that a Missouri woman using medication to end her pregnancy would need to make four trips to the clinic or doctor’s office. I can think of no other procedure or service that I provide in which the state has interfered with my medical decision making and dictated the number of visits or how I prescribe a medication.“
CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH
From activists to health care providers, Planned Parenthood is proud to celebrate the remarkable contributions of African American champions of sexual and reproductive health. As part of our celebration this month, we asked members of the Planned Parenthood community and family to share their perspectives, and tell us how they're celebrating and what they're reflecting upon this month.
Pamela Merritt, the Statewide E-Organizer for Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri, shares her perspective on celebrating this year's Black History Month:
Black History Month is particularly special this year because we are also celebrating the 50th anniversary of seminal moments in the civil rights movement. I grew up hearing firsthand accounts of civil rights setbacks and victories from my parents. I also grew up with increased access to services, education, and employment all due to civil rights’ activists’ willingness to overcome the setbacks and keep marching toward those victories. I think of the civil rights movement as my inheritance, an amazing gift that I am honored to have and privileged to pass along to future generations. My contribution, made in conscious remembrance of those who sacrificed so much so that others may have the opportunity to realize their full potential, is to advocate for reproductive justice.
Long before I joined Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri as Statewide E-organizer, I knew the important role Planned Parenthood health care centers play in our communities. My mother was a volunteer and would often bring home Planned Parenthood pamphlets to teach reproductive health and sex education to her daughters. When I went to college and subsequently scored my first job, Planned Parenthood was my health care provider. Years later I needed resources to put together a wellness program at the local shelter for teen mothers and I knew that Planned Parenthood would have the medically accurate material my students can trust and deserve.
I also know that a right without access is a right in name only. That’s a lesson of the civil rights movement that far too many people overlook. Expanding access to create real opportunity is the constant theme that begins at emancipation and continues through history; the campaign to end lynching, the battle over implementation of school desegregation, every lunch counter sit-in and freedom ride, each of these steps on the road to equality centered on prying open doors previously barred to people based on race. The fight for equal access traveled onward to the struggle for voting rights and equal opportunity to employment. Now, even as activists work to maintain and expand access to the many rights won through the work of millions of nameless civil rights heroes, we stand up and face down those who would bar access to the full range of reproductive health care.
During Black History Month and as we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the great March on Washington in August, let us recommit ourselves to the principle of equal opportunity and expanded access embodied in so much of black history. Behind every racist billboard that indicts black motherhood, within every bill that would restrict women of color’s reproductive rights, and in every slick video that distorts black history for political purposes, there lives the legacy of those who worked to ensure that our rights are rights in name only. As a reproductive justice activist and Planned Parenthood employee, I advocate for people’s right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments. I can think of no better way to nurture my civil rights inheritance and ensure that it will be a vibrant gift to pass along to future generations.
Happy Black History Month.
60 DAYS. 1 MILLION VOICES. LOUDER THAN EVER.
We think Sandra Fluke says it best: “It comes down to this: nobody-politicians, bosses, or anyone else should be able to block your access to essential health care. Nobody has the right to deny you power over your body and your future.”
WATCH FOR PLANNED PARENTHOOD ADVOCATES UNDER THE DOME
LOBBY DAY: March 13th , 2013
For more information on upcoming lobby days contact:
Crystal.Brigman@ppslr.org - Springfield/SWMO - (417) 883-3800 ext 809
Angie.Postal@ppslr.org - St. Louis area - (314) 531-7526 ext 334
Martha.Stevens@ppkm.org – Columbia/Mid-MO (573) 443-0427 ext 228
Sheila.Kostas@ppkm.org - KC area - (913) 312-5100 ext 246