Monday MONITOR                  

Monday, May 6, 2013 

Contact:  Michelle Trupiano – 573.424.8717 (c)

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

     Rep. Riddle's Non-Surgical Abortion Restriction bill (HB400) passed the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence committee on Monday, April 29th.  This bill would further restrict access to non-surgical abortion (sometimes referred to as RU486). Non-Surgical Abortion Restriction bills prohibit 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.  This requirement would force the patient to visit the health center four times. This bill does nothing to protect the health of women or to actually prevent unintended pregnancy.

HB698 AMENDEMENTS

     Last week the Missouri House approved an amendment on an Economic Development bill (HB698) to raise tax credits from $2 million up to $2.5 million for pregnancy resource centers (PRC’s).   

     PRC’s falsely advertise themselves as health care facilities. While women may get a free drug-store pregnancy test and, in some cases, an ultrasound, women do not receive physical exams, sexually transmitted disease (STD) treatment, birth control counseling, or prenatal care coordination.

     These facilities are run by organizations opposed to abortion that deceptively market themselves as professional health facilities.  The vast majority of staff at these organizations are not medical professionals and are not licensed to provide health care services in Missouri and therefore are not required to comply with medical ethics or operate under Missouri’s informed consent law.

     During testimony before the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Dr. Colleen McNicholas presented evidence of the real life damage being done by unlicensed PRC’s. Dr. McNicholas told the story of her 16 year-old patient in need of emergency surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy resulting in the loss of her fallopian tube.  The patient and her mother had sought help from a PRC after a positive home pregnancy test. After performing an ultrasound and finding no pregnancy in the uterus, the PRC told the patient that she was not pregnant and refused to refer her for birth control. Not only was this patient unable to get appropriate medical care at the PRC, but she received inaccurate information that negatively impacted her health and put her life at risk. Rather than giving these unlicensed PRC’s additional tax credits, the Missouri Legislature should give PRC’s more scrutiny and protect consumers from their dangerous and misleading practices.

POLITICIANS SHOULD LET DOCTORS BE DOCTORS

April 29th, 2013 ~ Letter to the Editor ~ St. Louis Post Dispatch

     I was delighted to read the commentary from Dr. Ed Weisbart ("Law should not put doctors’ wishes over patient health," April 25) about doctors considering patients' health above all else. I am so glad that there are doctors out there who put the patient first and are willing to present them with all of the legal alternatives, whether or not they agree with them.

     What a shame that our representatives in Jefferson City can come up with something as draconian and arbitrary as the Denial of Care bill while at the same time punting away the main medical issue of the year: Medicaid expansion. How many thousands of doctors and patients will be affected now because Missouri is passing up federal money for health care while neighboring states gladly put it to work to strengthen their economic and physical health?

     Let the doctors be doctors and let the politicians kindly please get out of their way.

Dan Connors  •  St. Louis County 

FDA DECISION ON PLAN B IS GOOD, STILL BARRIERS

May 2nd, 2013 ~ Opinion Editorial ~ USA Today

     The Obama administration's decision earlier this week to make emergency contraception more widely available is an important step forward for preventing unintended pregnancy -- a persistent problem in the United States that most people agree should be addressed more aggressively. However, access should be expanded further.

     The FDA announced this week that it approved a manufacturer's application to make emergency contraception available without a prescription for women ages 15 and older, which will increase access for women of all ages by moving it from behind the pharmacy counter. Until now, women had to ask for emergency contraception at the pharmacy counter, which led to delays and even outright denials in some cases.

     One in 10 women of reproductive age has used emergency contraception -- and many more will have access without hurdles or barriers, thanks to this decision. Emergency contraception is a safe and effective form of birth control that can prevent pregnancy if taken within five days of unprotected sex. Time is crucial. When a woman fears that she could become pregnant because her contraceptive failed or because she had unprotected sex, she needs fast access to birth control that can still work, not delays at the pharmacy counter and unnecessary red tape.

     The sooner it's taken after unprotected sex, the more effective over-the-counter emergency contraception is in preventing pregnancy. It works by postponing ovulation, which prevents sperm from coming in contact with and fertilizing an egg.

     Emergency contraception is a form of birth control. It is not an abortion pill -- it works before a woman is pregnant, and actually can't work if a woman is already pregnant. Indeed, access to emergency contraception reduces the need for abortion by preventing unintended pregnancy in the first place.

     About half of the nearly 7 million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute. This is one of the highest rates among developed countries -- and it's particularly high among low-income people who lack access to health care. Birth control also helps improve maternal and infant health. When women plan their pregnancies, they are more likely to access prenatal care, ultimately improving their own health and the health of their children. .

     While this decision is an important step, the FDA's decision left in place some barriers to access that are not supported by science.

     Under this decision, young women will have to show identification to get emergency contraception, which is an unnecessary hurdle. Research and more than 40 years of use show emergency contraception to be a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy for women of all ages. Overwhelming research also shows that teens are just as likely as adults to use emergency contraception correctly and that access to birth control does not cause young people to become more sexually active.

     All unnecessary restrictions on emergency contraception should be lifted. Expanding access to this form of birth control is good policy, good science and good sense.

Cecile Richards is the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

WAGNER CANNOT DISGUISE THAT SHE IS A RIGHT-WING IDEOLOGUE

April 30, 2013~ Letter to the Editor ~ St. Louis Post Dispatch 

     Your puff piece on Congresswoman Ann Wagner ("Wagner works quickly to make mark in Congress," April 28) cannot disguise the fact that she is just another right-wing ideologue from the Todd Akin wing of the party.

     Wagner ridiculously tries to justify her unconscionable vote against the Violence Against Women Act with the phony rationale that the law would somehow increase the likelihood of abortions in some unexplained way. When she has to invent excuses for doing the wrong thing, Wagner shows she is just another unprincipled politician.

     As to be expected for a blind ideologue, Wagner joins with the other climate-change deniers in her party. She should explain how promoting scientific ignorance will benefit the nation.

     Wagner continues the meme that the GOP does not need to change its policies, only its message to win voters. In other words, the party has to engage in a massive deception of its true intent.

     For example, it's only through an Orwellian corruption of language that the congresswoman can possibly posit the Republicans as party of the working person instead of those of privilege and wealth. For proof, she is actively working to undermine the Dodd-Frank law, which acts to constrain the excesses of the banking industry that resulted in the country's economic collapse. Why she thinks the banks should not have reasonable controls on activities that can undermine the economy remains unexplained. Her contention that abandoning the law would somehow benefit small businesses, rather than the big banks, is no more rational than her other positions.

     While Wagner may be energetic in trying to recruit right-wing extremists such as herself to run for office, she is doing Missourians and the country little favor in her pursuit. If the congresswoman is an example of the Republicans' brain trust, then the party truly deserves to follow the path of the Neanderthals to extinction.

Gerald Kreienkamp~ O'Fallon, Mo. 

WATCH FOR OUR LAST LOBBY DAY ON MAY 7TH

For more information contact:

Crystal.Brigman@ppslr.org – Springfield/SWMO – (417) 883-3800 ext 809

 Alison.Dreith@ppslr.org – St. Louis area – (314) 531-7526 ext 334

Martha.Stevens@ppkm.org – Columbia/Mid-MO – (573) 443-0427 ext 228

Erin.Heger@ppkm.org – KC area – (913) 312-5100 ext 257

 

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