Monday MONITOR

Monday, January 23, 2012                                                                                                                            

Contact:  Michelle Trupiano – 573.424.8717 (c)


OUTRAGEOUS BILL PUTS CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS ABOVE THE LAW!

     Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger (R-13) has filed HB1357 that ensures Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) can NEVER be regulated by any political sub-division. Numerous studies have shown that CPC’s provide false and misleading information to vulnerable women, are not required to provide medically factual or accurate information to them, and employ religiosity to scare women into carrying unintended pregnancies to term.  In contrast, abortion providers—licensed, monitored, and inspected by state and Federal authorities—are strictly bound by more than 30 laws, regulations, and unnecessary restrictions, including the requirement to provide state-mandated information to women seeking abortion services, mandatory delays, and limiting who can provide informed consent to a narrow list of licensed personnel.  Unlike health providers that offer STD testing, pregnancy testing, or ultrasounds, this bill would place CPCs above the law.

BILL REQUIRING TITLE X AGENCIES TO FILE REPORTS THEY ALREADY FILE

     Rep. Stanley Cox (R-118) filed HB1385 that requires detailed grant reports from Title X family planning agencies that also provide or refer for abortions. Title X agencies are barred by Federal law from providing abortions and—by this same law—are required to provide information about the option of abortion if asked.  Detailed accounting—and annual audits—of how Title X funds are used has always been a requirement of the funding. Hopefully, Rep. Cox will withdraw this unnecessary bill.

TWO PREVENTION BILLS FILED IN THE HOUSE

     Rep. Stacy Newman (D-73) has filed HB1439, a companion bill to SB496, the Prevention First Act filed by Sen. Robin Wright-Jones and described in the last Monitor.  In addition, Rep. Newman filed HB1440, the Patient Protection Act.  This bill requires pharmacies to dispense, or fill valid and lawful prescriptions for, all federal Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs or devices to prevent pregnancy, including emergency contraceptives, without discrimination or delay. House Speaker Tilley, in his opening remarks, referenced the need to protect pharmacists who would refuse women lawful medications. Rep. Newman’s bill seeks to protect women from those pharmacists, and pharmacy employees, that choose to dispense personal, moral judgments rather than legal medications.

VICTORY FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH!

From Think Progress | Guest blogger Jessica Arons, Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at American Progress | January 20, 2012

     Today, in a huge victory for women’s health, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that most employers will be required to cover contraception in their health plans, along with other preventive services, with no cost-sharing such as co-pays or deductibles. This means that after years of trying to get birth control covered to the same extent that health plans cover Viagra, our country will finally have nearly universal coverage of contraception.

     Opponents of contraception had lobbied hard for a broad exemption that would have allowed any religiously-affiliated employer to opt out of providing such coverage. Fortunately, the Obama administration rejected that push and decided to maintain the narrow religious exemption that it initially proposed. Only houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith will be exempt. Religiously-affiliated employers who do not qualify for the exemption and are not currently offering contraceptive coverage may apply for transitional relief for a one-year period to give them time to determine how to comply with the rule.

     Twenty-eight states already require employers, including most religiously affiliated institutions, to cover contraception in their health plans. The only change is that now they must cover the full cost.

     Family planning results in better health outcomes for women and their children—a woman who has a planned pregnancy is more likely to be in better health when she gets pregnant and more likely to seek prenatal care, and children who are born at least two years apart are healthier. Family planning is also the most effective tool we have in reducing unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion.

     An expanded religious exemption would have created an unreasonably large loophole that would have kept these benefits beyond the reach of millions of women. This decision honors the conscience of these women over that of the institutions that employ them and ensures that cost will no longer be a barrier to accessing basic and essential preventive health services.

FORCES ATTACKING CHOICE WITH LAWS

Springfield News Leader | January 20, 2012 | Op Ed

     On Sunday, we mark the 39th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. This watershed ruling guaranteed that the right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution protects the right of a woman to choose whether to continue a pregnancy to term or have a safe and legal abortion.

     The truth is, no matter what they call themselves or where they align politically, a majority of Americans respect the decision each woman must make about her own pregnancy and oppose efforts to overturn Roe. That hasn’t changed in the past four decades.

     Unfortunately, in 2011 anti-choice groups introduced three times the usual number of bills in state legislatures to restrict or deny women access to safe, legal abortion, emergency contraception and even family planning services. In total, an unprecedented 92 bills were enacted. This was the focus instead of jobs and our struggling economy.

     Congress also attempted to dismantle Title X, the federal family-planning program that serves the most at risk, low-income and uninsured women in America. Mitt Romney, the frontrunner Republican nominee for President, has included elimination of all Title X funding as one of his priorities for “fixing” the US economy and balancing the federal budget. This is nothing more than a cynical attempt to win favor with social conservatives, at the expense of poor women who rely on preventive services for their health and futures and for the stability of their families.

     Not surprisingly, 2012 is shaping up to be another year of extremes. In many instances, state legislators have already signaled their support or introduced all-out abortion bans like the defeated Mississippi “personhood” initiative —that declares a fertilized egg a person with full legal rights— or legislation that requires restrictive regulations on health centers, and bills designed to eliminate funding for State family planning programs, Medicaid, or Planned Parenthood health services.

     This year’s commemoration of the Roe anniversary serves as a reminder that reproductive freedom and access to reproductive services are at great risk—for all women, couples and families.

     This is the time when we must tell our elected officials that we are watching.

     We must send the message that we want sensible policies that protect reproductive privacy, that promote reproductive health, that focus on lifesaving health care, including breast exams, cancer screenings, birth control, and that improve women’s lives and health. We need to let our elected officials know that we are watching and that when they try to take away health care services and rights from American women there will be consequences.

Paula Gianino, President and CEO, PPSLR/SWMO

4000 YEARS OF CHOICE RECEPTION IN ST LOUIS

     Dozens of brave supporters of choice braved freezing rain and icy roads to join together and recognize the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at an evening reception Friday in St. Louis.  The poster exhibit, ‘4000 Years of Choice,’ provided an important and educational backdrop to the evening.

UPCOMING EVENTS TO CELEBRATE ROE V. WADE

Kansas City:  Featuring community activist, blogger and columnist, Pamela Merritt, and a film screening of We Always Resist: Trust Black Women, a documentary by SisterSong and Trust Black Women Wednesday, January 25th 6:30-8:30pm at the PPKM administrative offices in Overland Park, Kansas. Info/RSVP: vicky.leitnaker@ppkm.org or 913.312.5100 x228 or http://bit.ly/PPKMRoeEvent      

Springfield: “2012 Champion for Choice” honoring superstar volunteer, Lois Woods. Wednesday, January 25th, 7:00pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2434 E Battlefield. Tickets $10-$35 (your choice); refreshments, entertainment & raffle items!  crystal.brigman@ppslr.org

 

FIRST PRO-CHOICE COALITION LOBBY DAY—Tuesday, February 7

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