What an Ohio Dry Cleaner Has to do With Michigan Politicians

You might have missed this story if you don’t watch The Daily Show or read RH Reality Check, but a dry cleaner in Ohio has been putting “Choose Life” messaging on, of all things, wire coat hangers. This strikes me as a pretty brazen action, and not just because wire coat hangers are, to put it mildly, fairly loaded images when it comes to abortion. It’s also because this dry cleaner is, as best as I can tell, a private business whose day-to-day activities, not to mention income, have nothing to do with the abortion issue.

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Pro-Choice News Roundup

Free Birth Control? Implausible. Well, maybe. Abortion Gang.

Ohio Abortion Ban Challenges Terms of Roe v. Wade. Huffington Post.

Tough Titty: On Feminist Mothering and the Breastfeeding Doll. Alternet.

Abortions via ‘telemedicine’ are safe, effective, Iowa study finds. MSNBC.

IOM recommends free birth control under health care reform law. Feministing.

Arizona’s HB2416 is an All Out Assault on Women’s Health

On Saturday, April 2nd, Arizona’s governor Jan Brewer attended a dinner with the Center for Arizona Policy, an anti-choice PAC whose sole mission is to outlaw abortion.  At the dinner, Brewer signed HB2416 into law.  This bill has several restrictions on abortion.  And Brewer’s choice to sign the bill at the CAP dinner is a very clear signal about the status of women’s health in the state of Arizona.  The Republican super-majority in the state legislature and the governor would rather play politics with women’s lives than actually pass policies that will help reduce the need for abortion by making birth control and comprehensive sex education the hallmark of our state’s public health approach.

AJ’s article mentioned that HB2416 restricts access to medical abortion (which is performed by administering two pills that induce abortion) by legally requiring a physician to perform abortions.  But AJ didn’t tell you an important part of how that was accomplished.  HB2416 defines medical abortion as “surgery.”  Next time you take your allergy pills in the morning, you should ask yourself, “am I having a surgery?  Do I need to check myself into a hospital to take this pill?”  Because that is what HB2416 says is the law – as far as the abortion pill is concerned, anyway.

Defining medical abortion as surgery will have a very harsh effect on women in rural communities.  Currently, there are only two women’s health clinics in the state of Arizona that employ a physician – the rest have nurse practitioners and midwives.  Those clinics are located in Tucson and Phoenix.  Women who live outside of the Tucson and Phoenix metro areas will have to travel several hours to get to an abortion clinic.  And with the state’s 24 hour waiting period (which was passed in 2009 under HB2564), that trip may involve an overnight stay in a motel, or several additional hours of travel if the women decide to drive back and forth for their appointments.  [Read more...]

AZ Legislature Takes Anti-Choice to a New Level

In case the rest of the world has any doubt that Arizona is full of gun-slinging, ignorant assholes, one look at the state legislature’s agenda should clear up any confusion.  Several anti-choice bills have been introduced at the legislature in the past few weeks, and they make the already draconion abortion restrictions in our state look like a cake walk compared to what is potentially coming down the pike.  Let me summarize the worst offenders in the bunch.

HB2416 would introduce several new restrictions on abortion access, including:

  • Expands the definition of abortion clinic from those that perform surgical abortion to also include those that dispense medications which induce abortion without surgery.
  • Requires Arizona courts to appoint guardians ad litem for minors who are asking courts to waive the state parental consent requirement.
  • The bill expands required components of informed consent to include mandatory ultrasound and “auscultation” (using a stethoscope to listen to fetal organs, including the heart).
    - Both components must be provided at least one hour before medication is administered or the surgical procedure is provided.
    - Must offer the patient to view the ultrasound and to hear the heartbeat, etc.
    - Must offer to provide a detailed explanation of what the ultrasound depicts.
    - Must offer the patient a print version of the ultrasound.
    - Patient must certify in writing that the ultrasound and auscultation were offered, and whether she accepted or declined the offer.
  • Bans use of “telemedicine.”

There are so many problems with this bill it’s hard to know where to start the tirade. For starters, how many pills are considered a form of surgery? Can you imagine if a doctor had to have admitting rights at a hospital if they wanted to prescribe Viagra? The men of this state would be rioting in the streets! What if they needed to have admitting rights to prescribe allergy medicine, or insulin? I think you get my drift. Taking a pill is not the same as having surgery. It’s a total no brainer. [Read more...]

Friday Pro-choice News Roundup

A very belated thank you to everyone who attended our tweetups last week in New York, Tucson, and Dallas. We had a fabulous turnout at all three events – over 100 feisty feminists came out to celebrate Roe with us! We’ve put photos up on our Facebook page. And you can watch a video of Arizona State Senator Linda Lopez addressing the Tucson crowd over on the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona blog. A big shout out goes to Janice Formicella and Amy McCarthy for their help organizing the events, as well as to our co-hosts: NOW New York City, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and Planned Parenthood North Texas.

Here are some abortion-related links for you to help kick off your weekend in style.

The Girls’ Guide to Having an Abortion – Jezebel
No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act = Hyde on Steroids – Daily Kos
Growing Controversy Surrounding Telemed Abortions – NPR
Medicaid Expands Birth Control Access – Politico
Planned Parenthood Targeted by Anti-Choice Extremists Again – Washington Post
AZ Lawmaker Claims Roe v. Wade a Factor in Gabrielle Giffords’ Shooting – Politico

Telemedicine Abortion the Latest Target of Conservative Lawmakers

Late last week, the Washington Post reported that conservative politicians were targeting a relatively new method of physician-distributed medical abortion pills. Commonly called “telemedicine abortion,” this method allows physicians to consult with women via a video link-up in a clinic. If the physician is satisfied that the woman understands the procedure, he or she can then use a remote control to open a drawer in the clinic that contains the pills. This method is currently only used in Iowa, where more than 2,000 women have used this service through Planned Parenthood of the Heartland since 2008.

Now, legislators in Iowa and Nebraska have announced that they will try to ban telemedicine abortions, and this week Nebraska senator Tony Fulton is expected to introduce a state bill that would require doctors to be physically present to administer the pill. (Never mind that telemedicine abortions aren’t currently available in his state.)

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Telemedicine for Abortion Pills

Abortion opponents are pushing the Iowa Board of Medicine to look into the legitimacy of using telemedicine to administer abortion pills. Telemedicine allows patients and doctors to meet through video-conferencing and allows doctors to press a computer button to release the pills at clinics miles away from the doctor’s location. The patient takes the medication while the doctor supervises. In rural areas where abortions are not easily accessible, telemedicine is helping women access health care more easily.

The Des Moines Register reported Saturday why the opponents were upset. They argue that video-conferencing violates the state law requiring a doctor perform all abortions. In Iowa, many individuals use Telemedicine to attain medications. However, telemedicine has only been debated in regards to the abortion pill. So, the problem is not with telemedicine, because it is acceptable in all other situations besides administering the abortion pill. The problem is the opponent’s discomfort with abortions. Any practice that makes abortions accessible will anger anti-abortion activists until abortions are recognized with the same equality as other medical practices.

The Board is reviewing the issue and releasing an update on a telemedicine study in December.