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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 »

The North Carolina House of Representatives Doesn’t Trust Women

North Carolina politicians have worked hard over the last few years to pass abortion restrictions in the state, and they are back at it again. Last week, the House of Representatives passed HB 465 [PDF], a bill that would force a woman to wait 72, rather than the current 24 hours, after hearing “counseling” before she can get an abortion. Of course, the counseling is state-mandated bias intended to convince the woman not to have an abortion. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. If passed, this mandatory delay would be one of the most extreme [PDF] in the country.

What Does this Mean for North Carolina Women? Read more »

“A Battle for Our Identity”: Energizing the Fight Over the Hyde Amendment

A very important debate has been raging in the Senate over the past couple of weeks — one that could be critical to the fight to over-turn the Hyde Amendment* thus ensuring that all women get access to abortion despite their income or source of insurance.

As you may know, the Senate Anti-Trafficking bill was stalled because the bill contained an abortion restriction that would have kept the women helped by the bill from being able to get abortions. This provision would have extended the Hyde Amendment onto a fund made up solely of fines from offenders — the first time the restriction would have been applied to a fund made-up solely of non-tax-payer dollars.

Several women’s health champions in the Senate, including Senators Harry Reid, Patty Murray, Patrick Leahy and Diane Feinstein, took to the Senate floor to decry this restriction. “A bill intended to help women should help women,” Senator Murray stated. Read more »

Tennessee Senate Passes Two New Bills Restricting Abortion

This week Tennessee politicians are voting on two abortion restrictions, HB 977 and HB 1368, that would make it much more difficult for women in the state to get an abortion. Both bills passed the Senate last week and are awaiting votes on the House floor. These laws fit the now familiar trend across the country of legislators that seem determined to pass laws at the expense of the health of the women they were elected to represent.

Cutting off abortion access…

So what would these bills actually do? Well, HB 1368 requires that clinics meet the same licensing requirements as ambulatory surgical centers—a requirement that has to do with the number of water fountains and the width of the clinic’s halls, not patient safety. Medical groups, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose these requirements “because they improperly regulate medical care and do not improve patient safety or quality of care.” Bringing clinics into compliance with these unnecessary requirements costs more than $1 million—most clinics don’t have that kind of money to spend on useless renovations, so many will be forced to close their doors if HB 1368 becomes law, which is exactly what these laws are intended to do. Read more »

Hostile to Women, Hostile to Abortion: the Wage Gap and Abortion Restrictions

Today is Equal Pay Day, the symbolic date when the wages of women who work full time all year finally catch up to men’s wages. It’s a day to reflect on polices both good and bad that affect economic justice. At the National Women’s Law Center, we work on a range of issues that affect the economic stability of women and their families, including both equal pay and access to reproductive health care. So we thought it was appropriate to look at the overlap between equal pay and access to abortion. Here’s what we found: Read more »

Montana House Passes Telemedicine Abortion Ban, Imposing Substantial Costs on Women

As if living in a remote area miles from a large city wasn’t enough of a barrier, legislators in the state of Montana are seeking to make abortion even less accessible. In March, the Montana House of Representatives voted in favor of a ban on telemedicine abortions. The bill is currently in the Montana Senate and a vote is expected soon. “We all know what this bill is about,” Representative Elli Hill commented, explaining that although proposed under the guise of health and safety, the ban actually seeks to make abortion less accessible to women in remote areas of the state.

Medication abortions administered through telemedicine are as safe and effective as in-person abortions. With telemedicine, a doctor provides a medication abortion to a patient at a local clinic via a live video conference. Telemedicine increases access to abortion, permitting some women to have an abortion earlier in their pregnancy. This actually increases safety and reduces costs. Although abortion is an extremely safe procedure, the risk of complications and the costs of the procedure do increase with each week of pregnancy. Read more »

Abortion Coverage Ban Would Harm Texas Women

Once again, Texas politicians are trying to make it harder for women to access abortion. Today, the Texas House State Affairs Committee will hear testimony regarding HB 3130 which would prohibit health insurance plans sold in the marketplace from covering abortion, except when a woman’s life is in danger or to prevent “irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, other than a psychological or emotional condition.” 

This overly narrow exception ignores the real circumstances women face when deciding whether or not to continue a pregnancy. By denying women coverage for abortion, the bill cruelly punishes women by making it harder for them to access this needed health care service and will disproportionately harm lower-income women who may be unable to afford an abortion without insurance coverage.    Read more »

Wisconsin Admitting Privileges Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Last Friday, a federal judge issued a decision that protects women’s access to abortion, finding unconstitutional a Wisconsin law that would have shut down an abortion provider and seriously hindered access for thousands of women. The state law required all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles of the health center where the abortion was performed. These types of laws are medically unnecessary which is why major medical groups like American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Medical Association oppose these restrictions.

The law would have forced one clinic to shut its doors for good and the other three to absorb the patient load. With patients at these clinics already facing unusually long wait times (3-4 weeks) because of a lack of abortion providing physicians, it is unlikely the remaining three would have been able to serve all patients in need. Read more »