Reproductive Rights Updates: Michigan, Texas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, National

Not even the new session season yet and there's news, news, and more news.

So, recall last week where I wrote about Michigan and the onerous TRAP legislation as part of their end-of-session work? Well, it passed the Senate. It now heads back to the House for final review. Oh, Michigan legislators, many of you are terrible people.


So while Michigan is going out with an anti-choice extravaganza, Texas is gearing up for (another!) extravaganza of their own in the coming legislative session:
One of the targets for abortion opponents in 2013 will be a crack down on abortion-inducing drugs.

Filed by State Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), SB 97 includes language that would require drugs such as misoprostol and methotrexate be prescribed by a physician and accompanied by a signed contract with a second physician pledging to treat any emergency arising from the administration of the drug.
A signed contract from a second doctor? Because that's TOTALLY NORMAL for medical procedures, no less taking for medications, amirite?! It's TOTALLY NOT another ridiculous hurdle for accessing medical care!

Texas will also see the introduction of a "pain-capable abortion act", oh wait, they're calling it the "Pre-Born Pain Bill". It's another one of those bills that attempt to use the debunked claim that fetuses past 20 weeks gestation can feel pain so, therefore, abortion past 20 weeks should be outlawed.

Also happening in Texas is Planned Parenthood fighting back in lawsuits, one of which is also with a patient of Planned Parenthood.
A Texas Planned Parenthood patient, Marcela “Marcy” Balquinta, filed suit against the state on Tuesday to ensure the provider is not left out of the women’s health program when the state takes it over on Jan. 1.

Attorneys for Balquinta and Planned Parenthood, which is involved in the suit, claim Health and Human Services executive director Kyle Janek and the Texas Department of State Health Services do not have the authority to exclude Planned Parenthood from the program. [...]

"I love my job and work hard, but at the end of the day, like many women out there, I live paycheck to paycheck,” Balquinta said. “If I couldn’t go to Planned Parenthood, I don’t know where I’d turn. And there are tens of thousands of Texas women like me.”

This is the second state lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood. The first applied to the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which provides Texas a federal match that pays for 90 percent of the program’s $35 million cost. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is withdrawing funds from the Women’s Health Program on Dec. 31 because it believes it is a woman’s right to choose her provider.

Planned Parenthood also filed a federal lawsuit today, challenging a ruling that allows Texas to exclude it from the state-funded program claiming the ruling places unconstitutional conditions on the provider’s eligibility to participate.

Speaking of Planned Parenthood fighting back, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has filed suit against the state regarding its purposefully convoluted medication abortion legislation:
A state law that subjects doctors who perform medication-induced abortions to possible criminal charges is unconstitutionally vague and should be struck down, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin charged in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The suit in U.S. District Court in Madison challenges the law, which requires doctors and patients to take a series of steps before a woman can receive a so-called "pill abortion." Doctors who fail to follow some of the requirements can be subjected to criminal charges, civil penalties or disciplinary actions, the lawsuit said.

The defendants are Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, the state's district attorneys and the Medical Examining Board who are charged with enforcing the law.
The AG says the office will review it and "respond accordingly". The legislation in question requires people seeking medication abortions to visit the doctor three times during the course of the treatment and includes several requirements on the doctor to make sure the patient is doing this of their own free will. Or else criminal charges could be filed.


In North Carolina, a group of doctors are challenging requiring an ultrasound before abortion.
North Carolina physicians are contesting what they believe is a medically unfounded abortion law in legal proceedings this month.

A state hearing will determine the legality of an injunction against the Woman’s Right to Know Act clause that requires women receive ultrasounds before getting an abortion. The injunction, enacted by U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles following the law’s ratification, currently keeps physicians from having to perform the ultrasound for women seeking an abortion. Physicians in the state are being represented in the proceedings by interest groups including Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Although many North Carolina physicians contest the medical necessity of the entire act, this case will only determine the fate of the ultrasound component of the law, which is currently enjoined, said Andrew Beck, an attorney for the ACLU who is arguing for the injunction. The matter is currently undergoing summary judgment briefing, which means the defendants and plaintiffs are arguing their respective sides to Eagles.
As part of the mandatory ultrasound legislation, not only must a patient receive the ultrasound, they must be given a verbal description and be offered a chance to listen to a heartbeat (if any). If the case ends up going to trial, it will happen in January.


Closing the post with again referencing back to that post I wrote last week, recall the Shaheen amendment to the NDAA that would give service members insurance coverage for abortion in cases of rape or incest? Well:
A legislative proposal to have the Defense Department cover the cost of abortions for military women and Tricare beneficiaries in cases of rape and incest has drawn unanimous support from the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.

Members of the committee, known as DACOWITS, voted during a Tuesday meeting in Arlington, Va., to recommend that the Pentagon “affirmatively, strongly and immediately press for passage of legislation … to provide [Department of Defense] funding” for abortions of pregnancies resulting from sexual assaults.

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