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Iowa Supreme Court Protects Women's Access to Abortion

Iowans won big on Friday when the state Supreme Court voted 6-0 to strike down a prohibition on the use of telemedicine for medication abortion. In August 2013, the Iowa Board of Medicine banned the use of telemedicine for medication abortion by requiring doctors to meet in-person with patients before prescribing the necessary medications. Ignoring the fact that telemedicine for medication abortion is extremely safe, the Board shut down the country’s first program while claiming to care about health and safety. Rightly, the Iowa Supreme Court considered the facts and struck down the restriction because it imposed an unconstitutional burden on the right of Iowa women to access abortion.

The Importance of Iowa’s Telemedicine Program Read more »

Supreme Court Lets Doctors Practice Medicine, Not Politics

Yesterday was a good day for women’s health and the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship. The Supreme Court refused to review the Fourth Circuit’s decision striking down a coercive North Carolina law that inserted politicians’ views where they don’t belong.

The law, passed in 2011, would have subjected every woman in North Carolina to an unnecessary and invasive procedure before she could get an abortion. And it forced doctors to prioritize the messages of anti-abortion politicians over good medicine. Every court that has considered this law, including a federal district court and the Fourth Circuit, found it unconstitutional. Read more »

The Fifth Circuit Grants Texan Politicians' Wish

In June 2013, as I was bracing myself for my first year of law school, Wendy Davis’ famous filibuster made headline news. At the time, I was unaware of Texas’ anti-abortion bill (H.B. 2) and its devastating impact. H.B. 2 was specifically designed to shut down almost all abortion clinics in Texas. Earlier this week the Fifth Circuit upheld two dangerous provisions in H.B. 2, thereby endangering the health and safety of Texas women.

Abortion is Safe, These Requirements Are Unnecessary  

H.B. 2 mandates that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges with a local hospital despite the fact that abortion is an extremely safe procedure throughout pregnancy. The bill also requires that all clinics providing abortion comply with expensive and unnecessary building standards, such as hall width and parking lot design. Neither provision promotes patient safety. Instead, they impose arbitrary and often impossible to meet standards so that clinics will be forced to close their doors. In fact, H.B. 2 was opposed by major medical groups. Read more »

Big Week for Abortion Rights

While the week after Memorial Day may have been short on business days, it was not short on abortion rights victories in the courts. Last week, federal appellate courts struck down extreme abortion bans—Arkansas’ 12-week ban and Idaho’s 20-week ban. This is good news for women in Arkansas and Idaho!

Overturning One of the Most Extreme Bans in the Nation

In striking down Arkansas’ law, the Eighth Circuit saw the law for what it was—an outright ban on abortion. The circuit court wasn’t fooled by Arkansas’ argument that since women could get an abortion before 12 weeks, it wasn’t really a ban. The court’s rejection of Arkansas’ 12-week ban correctly recognizes that woman’s health, not politics, should drive important medical decisions. Politicians are not medical experts and this is not an area where politicians should be meddling. Read more »

Texas Politicians Target Neglected Teens

I grew up in a small Texas town of about 7,000 people, 30 miles from the closest city. There was no public transportation and, really, no way for a teenager without a car to get around except to rely on parents and friends. The courthouse was in the next town over. Some of my high school classmates lived an hour or more away—on ranches and farms and in houses and trailers down country roads with miles between neighbors or in little communities of less than 200 people that couldn’t even support a gas station. Getting into town from these places could be an ordeal, getting into the city to see an abortion provider, near impossible.

So trust me when I tell you that Texas HB 3994 puts in place insurmountable barriers for many Texas adolescents seeking an abortion. Last Friday, this dangerous and extreme bill passed its last hurdle before heading to the governor’s desk . Once it becomes law, it will threaten the safety and health of Texas adolescents. Read more »

Working for a "Shift" on Abortion Stigma in Texas

As many of you know, due to several extreme anti-abortion bills, over half the abortion clinics in Texas have been forced to close. Amy Hagstrom Miller, who led the fight against the Texas laws, is still fighting. She has just launched a new non-profit called Shift, because, as she says, she is “so over” abortion stigma.

Amy is the founder of Whole Women’s Health, a group of feminist clinics that provides holistic health care for women — including abortion. Whole Women’s Health was founded in Texas, and for the past few decades Amy has been at the forefront of the fight for women’s health and constitutional rights in that state. Read more »

AB 775: One More Reason to Love California

California is the best. I may be biased because I used to live there, but it really is a phenomenal state. Read more »

Texas Considers a Bill Banning Insurance Coverage of Abortion

Texans are a competitive group, but lately Texas politicians are seeking a record no one should want—the worst state for women. Right now, Texas is ranked among the six worst states for women but if Texas politicians have their way, it may soon be the worst. Thanks to budget cuts and abortion restrictions, Texans already have a hard time accessing reproductive health care—from cervical cancer screenings to abortion. Now, the Texas House is set to vote on SB 575, an extreme coverage ban that would prevent all private insurance plans in the state from providing coverage of abortion as part of a comprehensive health plan. If this bill passes it will make it even harder for women in Texas to get an abortion.

Imposing Financial Barriers that Endanger Women’s Health

Currently, insurance companies in Texas can cover abortion as part of a comprehensive insurance plan. In the absence of any ban, most private plans do provide coverage. But SB 575 will take that coverage away from many women and leave them to shoulder the cost of abortion alone. Read more »

Texas Activist Speaks About Proposed Abortion Restrictions

In Texas, a new bill would make it even harder for pregnant minors to get an abortion by adding extra barriers to an already burdensome process. In the following blog post, Emily Rooke-Ley from Jane's Due Process, an organization that provides legal representation to  pregnant minors in Texas, tells us first-hand how these unnecessary and dangerous hoops would harm Texas adolescents:

Texas Legislators Are Putting Pregnant Teens in Harm's Way

by Emily Rooke-Ley, cross-posted from RH Reality Check

I remember my first time answering the hotline for Jane’s Due Process, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation for pregnant minors in Texas. Holding back tears, I listened anxiously to a young woman, whom I will call Gaby, explain her home life and her pregnancy, asking me to help her obtain a judicial bypass, which would allow her to obtain an abortion without a parent or guardian’s consent. She was just as mature as I am—probably more. “Well the thing is,” she said to me, her voice exuding a kind of tough conviction, “I just can’t bring a baby into this world right now.”  Read more »

Tip of the Hat to the Governor of Montana for Protecting Access to Health Care!

Last Monday, Governor Bullock of Montana stood up for women and vetoed a bill that would have banned the use of telemedicine to prescribe medication for abortion remotely in the state. Because he waited until the last day of the legislative session, procedural rules prevent the legislature from trying to overcome his veto. That means this bill, HB 587, is officially dead.

Why Montana Women Need Telemedicine for Abortion

Telemedicine is a safe and effective method of increasing access to abortion for women across the state. When using telemedicine, the woman receives an in-person examination from a health care professional such as a nurse or an ultrasound technician. After the examination, the woman speaks to her doctor through live video and the doctor remotely prescribes the pills for a medication abortion. Because the doctor and the patient do not have to be in the same location, telemedicine abortion allows women that live long distances from an abortion provider to access medication abortion without burdensome travel. This is particularly important because many women prefer medication abortion to surgical procedures, and telemedicine has a proven track record as a safe way to increase access to this type of care. Read more »