Monday MONITOR                  

Monday, May 13, 2013 

Contact:  Michelle Trupiano – 573.424.8717 (c)

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

     Rep. Riddle's Non-Surgical Abortion Restriction bill (HB400) passed the Senate on May 7th by a vote of 23-7. While the bill was modified in the Senate, HB400 further restricts access to abortion services.

     The bill will now return to the House and, if approved, will be sent to Governor Nixon.

     Women in the United States have been safely and legally using non-surgical abortion for over a decade. Non-surgical abortion gives a woman the option of a more private and less invasive method of ending a pregnancy, in a setting in which she feels most comfortable.

     People in rural areas often have to drive very long distances to see a doctor in person. Health care centers, particularly in these areas, are increasingly using telemedicine services for patients to receive quality medical care. The Legislature’s attempt to ban safe and effective non-surgical abortion through telemedicine leaves rural Missourians behind when it comes to the latest advances in medical technology.

     This bill does nothing to protect the health of women or to actually prevent unintended pregnancy.

LOBBY DAY RECAP

     On Tuesday, May 7th, over 20 volunteers from across the state spent the day under the dome meeting with Missouri legislators during a lobby day organized by Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri.   

     Volunteers thanked legislators who voted against bills that restrict access to programs or services, like HB400 and SB175.  Volunteers also met with legislators and urged them to reject these bills.  Our citizen lobbyists were able to prepare Senate champions to stand strong for women’s health with the latest information about the negative impact of the Non-Surgical Abortion Restriction bill as it was being debated on the Senate floor. This was our last lobby day of the 2013 Legislative Session. Thank you to all the passionate volunteers who have joined us under the dome this year!

CONGRATULATIONS TO MICHELLE TRUPIANO

     One May 3rd, MSW Michelle Trupiano, Statewide Manager of Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri, was awarded the Supervisor of the Year Award by the MU School of Social Work. Congratulations Michelle Trupiano!

NATIONAL NURSES WEEK

     Last week was National Nurses Week.  Planned Parenthood nurses are part of a team of top-notch health care providers who make a difference in people's lives every day. Last week and every week, we are so grateful and say thank you to all our nurses.

PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS DESERVE EQUAL ACCESS TO ABORTION COVERAGE

     Unlike most other women who receive health care coverage from the federal government, Peace Corps volunteers are denied coverage for abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, and even when their lives are in danger.
     Senator Frank Lautenberg has introduced a bill that would extend access to abortion to women in the Peace Corps — the same comprehensive coverage that other federal employees receive. Urge your senators to support the Peace Corps Equity Act and repeal the outdated, unjust policies that deny Peace Corps volunteers abortion coverage.

     Take Action Now and let Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill know you want her to support this bill. Add your name to the petition now.

ABORTION: WOULD GOP BILL MAKE IT HARDER FOR MISSOURI WOMEN TO ACCESS SERVICES

May 8th, 2013 ~ Riverfront Times~ By Sam Levin

     It's the final weeks of the legislative session -- and Missouri lawmakers are ensuring there will be at least one more abortion fight.

     Planned Parenthood says that a bill that advanced this week could make it more difficult for women in the state to access the "abortion pill." The measure would establish new requirements for the use of RU-486, also called mifepristone, or any other "abortion-inducing drugs."

     "This is the legislature, once again, thinking their job is to practice medicine, thinking that their job is to create as many barriers and hurdles as possible that they can put in front of women," Paula Gianino, president of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, tells Daily RFT.

     What would the legislation change -- and does it have a shot of becoming law? House Bill 400, sponsored by Republican State Rep. Jeanie Riddle, made it out of the House to the Senate, where, yesterday, it was given final passage by a vote of 23-7.

     Riddle did not respond to a request for comment from Daily RFT yesterday afternoon. We'll update if we get a chance to speak with her.

     As written, HB 400, a fairly short bill, says: When RU-486 (mifepristone) or any drug or chemical is used for the purpose of inducing an abortion, the drug or chemical shall be administered in the same room and in the physical presence of the physician who prescribed, dispensed, or otherwise provided the drug or chemical to the patient.

     While it may sound fairly simple, Gianino says, if made into law, it would pose serious challenges for women who have chosen this method of abortion with a pill.

     She explains that this option requires a first pill that a woman takes at a clinic followed by a second medicine, called misoprostol, which is taken up to three days after the abortion pill. That typically happens at home.

     Health-care providers give instructions on this second step.

     If Missouri mandated that this second component take place in the presence of the physician, it would put in place unnecessary difficulties for women, she argues.

     "They just want to impose more burdens and make it harder to access these services," she says, adding, "we already have every possible law and barrier in place."

     Part of the problem, Gianino argues, is that about one out of every five of their patients travels more than 100 miles to get there -- meaning a return trip to take the second pill could be very difficult.  Gianino says this added requirement is not needed.

     "We shouldn't have politicians pretending to be physicians," she says, arguing that there is no medical justification for this proposal and that women are already given very specific instructions and education about the various steps involved.

     And it's actually preferable that women are not traveling during the second part of the process. "We want women...in the privacy of their home," she says.

     If made into law, some women might have no choice but to avoid it altogether. "I have no doubt that this would take that option away from some women," she says.

MISSOURI LEGISLATORS SHOULD TAKE CARE OF CITIZENS

May 6, 2013~Letters to the Editor~ St. Louis Post Dispatch

     I am beyond disillusioned in the actions of many politicians in Jefferson City over their blind refusal to expand Medicaid in Missouri, thereby passing up billions of dollars of federal health care funding. Their failure will mean that 250,000 Missourians will not have health care insurance, 24,000 jobs in the first year will not be funded and filled, and many of our rural hospitals and clinics will not operate at full capacity. All of these things are vital to the well-being of our citizens.

     When I participated in the Medicaid Expansion Day in Jefferson City, the representatives and senators who did not support Medicaid expansion (those I spoke to were all Republicans) said their reasons were that Medicaid needs to be reformed first and that the federal deficit was so great they could not in good conscience vote for expansion.

     While it is true that the federal deficit is huge, Missouri’s refusal to participate in expansion will mean that those federal dollars which would have come to our state will go elsewhere. Our refusal will not help the federal deficit, but it will bring greatly increased hardship to our state. It is also true that most government, private and corporate programs need to be more accountable and efficient, but again refusing federal dollars will not make this happen magically.

      Our opportunity is now. Missouri legislators need to act like grown-ups. We elected them to do what is best for all of the citizens of our state and they are failing badly. In all fairness, though, I do want to thank Reps. Jake Hummel and Jeanne Kirkton, as well as Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, for sponsoring bills to expand Medicaid.

     Since it does not look as if Missouri legislators will accomplish this goal before the session ends in two weeks, Gov. Jay Nixon should call them back for a special session this summer to get the job done. Basic health care is not only a bipartisan human need, but the economic benefits of better coverage will be good for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike. It is time to grow up and take care of our own.

Ann Mandelstamm •  St. Louis

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