Monday MONITOR

Monday, September 19, 2011
Contact: Michelle Trupiano – 573.424.8717 (cell)

PLANNED PARENTHOOD WINS MAJOR VICTORY IN BATTLE AGAINST SD ABORTION LAW

From PPMNS press release, September 2, 2011

        On September 2nd, Planned Parenthood won a major victory in its ongoing court battle against South Dakota’s so-called ‘informed consent’ law, which seeks to compel doctors to deliver ideological and medically inaccurate statements to their patients. The 2005 South Dakota law requires a doctor to tell a woman who is seeking an abortion that she faces an ‘increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.’

        “As the major medical organizations have found, and as the court agreed today, the scientific and medical evidence shows that women who choose abortion are not at increased risk for mental health problems,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals further clarified that a provision in the law that requires doctors to tell a woman that she has a relationship with the fetus and that relationship is legally protected simply requires doctors to explain ‘that the woman seeking abortion is legally and constitutionally protected against being forced to have an abortion.’ “Planned Parenthood has always stood for the right of women to make these decisions, and we are gratified by this result,” said Stoesz. “South Dakota voters twice have said at the polls that they do not want politicians interfering with these decisions, and we will continue to honor and defend their wishes.”

KANSAS: PPKM TO RECEIVE TITLE X FUNDING—STATE MUST COMPLY WITH COURT ORDER

By ROXANA HEGEMAN, Associated Press – Aug 31, 2011 -- excerpted

        WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials said Wednesday the state will obey a federal judge's order to immediately fund Planned Parenthood clinics while the state pursues an appeal. The state is appealing a decision that blocked enforcement of a new statute stripping it all of all federal funding for non-abortion services. "The State of Kansas intends to immediately comply with the order of the court," the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in a statement Wednesday. "At the same time, the State will continue to pursue reversal of this order on appeal." The Kansas attorney general's office also issued a similar statement on Wednesday. The move comes a day after U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten ordered the state to continue paying Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri on the same quarterly schedule that existed before a new state law stripped it of all federal funding for non-abortion services. He also rejected the state's request that the group post a bond. […]

        Planned Parenthood said in a news release that KDHE had notified it Wednesday that it would continue Title X federal funding as ordered by the court. The clinic had received $330,000 a year in Title X federal funding through the state for its clinics in Hays and Wichita that serve 5,700 patients. The money helps low-income individuals with reproductive health care services such as birth control, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. "We are pleased the State and Governor Sam Brownback have decided to comply with the Court's order. This is a clear victory for the health and safety of Kansas women and families," the agency said. "The continuance of the Title X funding will enable our Wichita and Hays patients to receive services without interruption." […]

MISSISSIPPI VOTERS WILL FACE EXTREME ANTI-ABORTION BALLOT MEASURE IN NOVEMBER

        On Thursday, September 8th, the Mississippi Supreme Court sent down a decision placing Initiative 26—a ‘fetal personhood’ measure—on the 2011 general election ballot. “Planned Parenthood is very disappointed that the court ruled to allow this clearly unconstitutional amendment to be placed on the 2011 general ballot,” said Kay Scott, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc., which covers Mississippi. “The Mississippi Constitution explicitly states that the initiative process cannot be used to change the Bill of Rights and Initiative 26 would do just that if it passes,” said Scott. “Amendment 26 will have extreme consequences for women and children. It may outlaw abortions, even if the woman's life is threatened or she's been raped. It’s so extreme it could even ban common methods of birth control like the pill and IUD. This would mean more unintended pregnancies, putting families at risk, and women facing unhealthy and dangerous options. This would put government bureaucrats in charge of important life decisions when they should really be focusing on getting the economy back on track and getting their own house in order.”

STATEMENT ON GUTTMACHER ANALYSIS OF UNINTENDED PREGNANCY RATES

Cecile Richards, President, PPFA—August 24, 2011

        “The Guttmacher Institute’s new analysis of unintended pregnancy should serve as a national wake-up call. In addition to showing little overall progress in lowering the rates of unintended pregnancy since the mid-1990s, the analysis reveals a huge and growing disparity in unintended pregnancies between higher- and lower-income Americans. From 1994 to 2006, the unintended pregnancy rate declined by nearly a third among women living well above the national poverty level, yet it increased by half among those living below the poverty line. The take-home message is clear: we need to do more to prevent unintended pregnancy, and access to affordable birth control is one significant way to do that. Women who become pregnant unintentionally are less likely to get timely prenatal care, and their children are at increased risk of low birth weight and infant mortality. There is no question that birth control prevents unintended pregnancy and reduces these risks. Unfortunately, too many American women still lack access to birth control they can afford to use in a consistent manner.

         “It’s no coincidence that low-income women have more unintended pregnancies. Even for those with health insurance, co-pays for birth control pills can range from $15 to $50 per month, and longer-acting methods can cost several hundred dollars to start. Americans agree that women shouldn’t have to choose between birth control and other basic necessities. One recent survey found that 82 percent favor expanding access for those who can’t afford it.

        “Thanks to a recent decision by the Obama administration, we can look forward to progress in making birth control more affordable to more women. The United States Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that it is including all FDA-approved birth control methods in the list of preventive services that will be fully covered under the Affordable Care Act. This means that new insurance plans will offer birth control with no additional out-of-pocket expenses or co-pays — as many public insurance programs already do. The Guttmacher analysis shows how important this decision will be in keeping women and families healthy.

        “By expanding access to affordable birth control, we can create a healthier nation.”

CATHOLIC BISHOPS CLAIM BIRTH CONTROL DECISION VIOLATES FIRST AMENDMENT

By Ashley Lopez | 09.07.11 | The Florida Independent

        The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently released a 35-page comment (.pdf) to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services claiming that the agency’s recent decision to include birth control in its list of preventive care services violates the First Amendment’s religion clause. Health and Human Services’ decision would allow women to receive insurance coverage for birth control without having to also make co-payments. The decision would be implemented through the Affordable Care Act. Catholic organizations have been the main opponents of this decision — despite a provision that “allows religious institutions that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services.”

        According to the Bishops […] “The HHS mandate is unprecedented in federal law and more radical than any state contraceptive mandate enacted to date.” […] The Bishop’s also reiterated the commonly used complaint among Catholic groups that the religious exemption provision is “too limited” […] However, the Bishops are not asking for Health and Human Services to expand the exemption, but instead requesting that the mandate be rescinded “in its entirety.” […] “(O)nly rescission will eliminate all of the serious moral problems the mandate creates; only rescission will correct HHS’s legally flawed interpretation of the term ‘preventive services.’”

        Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, says that the Bishops are using “a contrived legal argument” to dismiss the “conscious rights of those seeking care.” “This is a strategy we have seen time and time again,” O’Brien says. “They are trying to rely on any argument to push their own perspective.” Recent polling finds that 66 percent of Americans agree with the federal government’s recent decision to include birth control in its list of preventative services. Furthermore, according to research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, about “98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptive methods banned by the church.”

CHRIS TAYLOR BECOMES WISCONSIN STATE REPRESENTATIVE

       Former Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Public Policy Director Chris Taylor was sworn in as Wisconsin's newest state representative of the 48th Assembly on August 30 following her election victory. She was joined by over 100 attendees: her family, progressive organizations, friends, voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin staff and board members, and local media. Congratulations to Chris and Wisconsin for having a strong voice for women’s rights in the Assembly!

LETTER TO THE EDITOR - Juanita McDowell from Richland, MO Posted Sep 16, 2011 on LakeNewsOnline.com

        In response to Cliff Luber’s letter (Sept. 12, 2011): Finally, Mr. Luber wrote something I can agree with him on. He’s right – the ACLU needs to get out of our schools. Teachers should be able to communicate with students online. If this right is taken away from our teachers, then it needs to also be taken away from preachers, priests, all religious leaders, and scout leaders as people from these sectors have committed more crimes against children than teachers have.

      I’m sick of our teachers being blamed for everything. Our teachers put up with a lot in the classroom. Kids have no respect for adults anymore. We should be praising our teachers and paying them more – not trashing them.

       I have fought all my life for women’s rights. Now comes the GOP and Tea Party (what Mr. Luber usually writes about). These groups take away women’s rights. Congress has spent most of their time passing laws against women. The Missouri Legislature has as well. They attempted to destroy the best program benefiting women, Planned Parenthood. Then they make abortion (a legal procedure) impossible for women to get; as well as making it more difficult and expensive for women to get birth control and the morning after pill. They passed laws against dancers in gentleman’s clubs and stem cell research. Most of these laws were passed by men, but a man can still get his Viagra anytime he wants. They sure don’t have the right to make decisions for women. I have heard a lot of these older women in the Tea Party have had their flings and their abortions. So let our young women and their doctors make these decisions. It’s the law, and women better start fighting, and voting, before they take all their rights away.

       And Mr. Luber, I just want to say to you that I have been to a Tea Party meeting (in Camdenton) and it wasn’t about spending or the debt, or the budget. It was all about social issues. I watch, I read, and I vote.

       P.S. I am 80 years old, and have been fighting for women’s rights all my life.

 www.ppmissouri.org