Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Contact: Michelle Trupiano – 573.424.8717 (cell)


       On Tuesday, November 8, voters in Mississippi decisively defeated the attempt to pass a constitutional amendment declaring a ‘person’ from the moment of fertilization.  The vote of 58% to 42%--a 16 point spread—came on the heels of polling that showed it to be too close to call.  The clear—and winning—message from Mississippians for Healthy Families was that this measure was far too extreme, that it could outlaw some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization, as well as put doctors and nurses in an untenable position when faced with a possibly fatal ectopic pregnancy.  Even the anti-choice, former Governor of MS, Haley Barbour, indicated he had real concerns about the amendment.  This marks the 3rd decisive defeat of a ‘personhood’ amendment (including two times in Colorado by huge margins).

       In Missouri’s special election, three of the four open State Representative seats were won by pro-choice candidates.  In H39, Judy Morgan (D) won with 77.4% of the vote.  In H41, Brandon Ellington (D) ran unopposed.  And, in H83, Tracy McCreery (I) won a 3-way race by 15 points with help from ADVOCATES of Planned Parenthood, PROMO, NARAL-PCM and other progressive organizations.  H15 remains an anti-choice seat with Chrissy Sommer (R) winning by just 38 votes; her opponent was also anti-choice. 


PPKM press release | November 9, 2011 \ Excerpted

       In a significant victory for Planned Parenthood and for the women and families who rely on us for health care, 49 criminal charges against Planned Parenthood were dismissed today in Johnson County, Kansas, District Court.  While additional charges in this case remain, we are pleased the most serious charges have rightfully been dismissed.  We are grateful Johnson County taxpayers and Planned Parenthood will no longer waste enormous time and money on these politically-motivated allegations brought by now discredited prosecutor Phill Kline.  For seven years, Planned Parenthood has been consistent in our determination to protect the medical privacy of women who rely on us for safe, legal reproductive health care, and in our assertion none of the charges filed in 2007 have any factual or legal foundation. […]

       Today’s dismissal of 49 counts represents a partial conclusion of a prolonged and unnecessary legal process which has cost the people of Johnson County an immense amount of money and a great deal of unnecessary expense and grief to Planned Parenthood and its patients.  We look forward to responding to the remaining charges and remain confident the outcome will demonstrate we have faithfully complied with Kansas law.


       The White House has come under enormous pressure to exempt religiously-affiliated hospitals, universities, parochial schools, and other organizations from offering their employees coverage for birth control without co-payments.  That means millions of people and their dependents would lose access to this important benefit.  Coverage of birth control with no co-pays is one of the most popular benefits of the Affordable Care Act.  At a time when many families are struggling with high out-of-pocket health care costs, expanded access to affordable birth control will be a tremendous benefit.  The reality is, one in three women voters (34%) have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point in their lives. Birth control use is nearly universal in the United States: 99% of sexually experienced women will have used birth control at some point in their lives, including 98% of sexually experienced Catholic women. And, 77% of Catholic women voters support the requirement that health plans cover birth control at no cost.

        Access to birth control improves health outcomes.  The respected, nonpartisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended birth control be covered as a women’s preventive service for a reason:  it is fundamental to improving women’s health and the health of their families — and medical research has demonstrated that fact for decades.  For example, improved access to birth control is directly linked to declines in maternal and infant mortality. Taking away this important new benefit from millions of workers and their families has no basis in the law and is simply bad policy.  Any effort to undermine this benefit is simply unacceptable.


St. Louis Post Dispatch, November 6, 2011 | Obits | Mike Sorkin [excerpted]

       Working as a hospital nurse here during the 1960s, Judy Widdicombe, who died [November 3rd], saw firsthand the results of illegal abortions. "Women were dying in St. Louis," she later recalled. She watched women come into the emergency room at her hospital bleeding after an illegal abortion, sometimes one that was self-induced. "You had to wonder what kind of pain and trauma was going on in their minds to make them do this." … When the Supreme Court ruled, on Jan. 22, 1973, that abortion was legal, Ms. Widdicombe set about providing medical facilities for women. …

       (F)ive years before the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, Ms. Widdicombe began recruiting doctors "into a conspiracy to commit repeated felonies in Missouri ...”  a kind of regional underground railroad for women. The members were counselors, ministers, physicians, nurses and other volunteers, all willing to ignore the laws outlawing abortion and working together through a telephone network. They often helped women get to New York, one of the few places where abortions were legal. …

       Ms. Widdicombe opened the first Reproductive Health Services clinic in May 1973, barely four months after the Supreme Court ruling. She was adamant about what she wanted: She would be the director. The clinic would be near an emergency room. And women would be in charge … Ms. Widdicombe headed the clinic until 1986 … and retired about 10 years ago to a home in Fort Myers, Fla., where few knew her history of abortion rights work.  She told friends it was the first time in decades she was able to go out without fear of protesters or physical injury.


       More than 100 Affordable Care Act/Health Insurance Exchange supporters packed the room at the MO Senate Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges hearing in St. Charles last Thursday.  Thirty supporters testified in favor of the exchange while only 7 testified against. Those against the exchange in the audience numbered only about 15. 

       Supporters brought signs to hold up to show support or disappointment in what the speakers were saying. The disappointment signs read “Tell the Truth” and were most vigorously waved when the anti-choice witnesses testified. Individuals testifying in support included Lew Prince, a small business owner who credits the ACA with saving his business money, former state Senator Joan Bray, and several individuals unable to obtain health insurance due to costs or pre-existing conditions.


       Statement by Dr. Vanessa Cullins, Planned Parenthood Federation of America vice president for medical affairs, regarding the recommendation made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that 11- and 12-year-old boys receive the HPV vaccine. October 25.

       “Today’s recommendation that boys join girls in being routinely vaccinated against human papillomavirus is an important step toward reducing the number of men and women who will ever have to hear their doctors say they have penile, cervical, or other types of cancer caused by HPV.  Health experts have long known that HPV is the primary cause of several types of cancer, and protecting young men and women from contracting this virus will ultimately save lives.”


       The final hearing of this interim committee was held in Poplar Bluff with six of the 22 members attending.  The witnesses covered issues of restricting access to pseudo-ephedrine, the need for government to partner with local agencies, a renegade Juvenile Officer, the need for more generous health benefits to low-income women after they give birth, foster-care, and education.  Charisse Jackson, VP of Education & Diversity for PPSLR/SWMO, presented testimony in favor of comprehensive sex education so our youth can stay safe and healthy. She emphasized the teaching of facts, not values. This testimony was supported by an educator who teaches at the community college.  Final testimony took on the issue of defining the ‘ideal family’—mom, dad, kids—and pressed for mandatory pre-divorce counseling as well as outlawing ‘no fault’ divorce. In light of the preceding discussions regarding poverty, child neglect and abuse, and relationship violence, the focus on making it more difficult for couples with children to separate, rather than on the state providing support and resources to lift those families out of poverty, seemed sadly misplaced.