Reproductive Rights Updates: North Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Texas, Washington

Quite a bit happening in the anti-autonomy front, much of it this past Friday.

North Dakota made big news over the weekend with what happened Friday--three out of four anti-abortion bills passed. One of those being a resolution to bring "personhood" to ND voters.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009, passed and will be on the 2014 general election ballot.

Under the resolution, North Dakota voters will decide whether the state constitution should be amended to protect a human at every stage of life, which some say can mean at conception.


Senate Bill 2368, which defines life as starting at conception and would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, passed through the House by a 60-32 vote. It was sponsored by Sen. Joe Miller, R-Park River.

The bill also would increase reporting requirements for abortions and prohibit a public higher education institution from contracting with an entity that performs or counsels in favor of abortions.

It does exempt an abortion in the case of a medical emergency.


Senate Bill 2305, which would require a physician performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility, passed 58-34 in the House.
The TRAP legislation is particularly harmful: there is only one clinic in North Dakota and, as noted in the article, a doctor would need to admit ten patients per year to retain privileges. The clinic has only had to admit one person in the past decade.

The sole defeated legislation last Friday was one that was more "personhood"-esque nonsense which would have defined a human as “as an individual member of the species homo sapiens at every stage of development.” It only lost by six votes.


Kansas, determined to not be outdone by North Dakota, moved forward more legislation on Friday, too.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee approved legislation on Friday to block tax breaks for abortion providers and bar public schools from using sex education instruction from abortion providers.


The measure bars groups providing abortions from receiving tax exemptions or credits that go to other nonprofit groups or health care providers. It would also prohibit women who claim income tax deductions for medical expenses from including the cost of abortion services.


The Kansas bill also includes policy statements that each human life begins "at fertilization" and that "unborn children have interests in life, health and well-being that should be protected."

A separate abortion bill cleared the House Federal and State Affairs Committee on Friday that would make it a crime for doctors to perform abortions solely because a woman or her family doesn't want a baby of a certain gender.
Now when I read about this, I could swear the whole "no tax credits for providers" part sounded familiar--and lo and behold, they had included that in the ginormous omnibus bill last year.


In Iowa, a bill designed to help inmates receive humane treatment during pregnancy and birth is being tanked due to a republican legislator attaching an anti-abortion amendment to it:
A legislative proposal to limit the shackling of pregnant inmates is “basically dead” in the Iowa Senate, says Sen. Janet Petersen, the bill’s floor manager.

Petersen, a Des Moines Democrat, says she won’t proceed with Senate File 399 because of an amendment proposed by Sen. Kent Sorenson, a Milo Republican. Sorenson wants to prohibit the use of state money to “perform or facilitate” inmate abortions.


The bill minimizing the use of handcuffs and other restraints for pregnant inmates has been approved by a Senate committee and is eligible for debate on the Senate floor. Advocates say shackling pregnant inmates is unnecessary and inhumane, and they want to limit the practice in state prisons and county jails. A companion bill stalled in the House after state prison officials assured lawmakers they were addressing the issue.

Sorenson said Friday that when lawmakers discuss maternal health care for prisoners, they also need to consider the life of the inmate’s unborn child. He contends most Iowans agree with him, and said he has no intention of blocking Petersen’s legislation.

Twenty-four Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Seng, a Davenport Democrat, are co-sponsoring the anti-abortion amendment. Sorenson hinted another Democratic lawmaker will also endorse the measure, which would assure the amendment could win approval.

“I think it is sad that Janet is blaming me for killing the bill. I am simply a minority member who has a set of beliefs, and it looks for sure that 24 other members agree with me,” Sorenson said. “This is something that needs to be dealt with, and it is a valid conversation that we should have.”
"I am simply a minority member who has a set of beliefs"--is that not the most disingenuous bullshit EVER? Also, officials at the Iowa State Sheriffs’ & Deputies Association and the Iowa Department of Corrections aren't aware of any inmate getting an abortion AND they are already not allowed to use any public money to assist an inmate from getting an abortion unless the person's life is threatened.


In Texas, they've taken the TRAP angle and decided to run all the way with it:
A bill advancing through the Texas Legislature could drastically decrease the number of legal abortion facilities in the state.


The bill [SB 537] would require abortions, including those induced by drugs, to be performed in so-called ambulatory surgical centers. The regulations for such facilities include specific sizes for rooms and doorways, and additional infrastructure like pipelines for general anesthesia and large sterilization equipment.

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services approved the bill on Tuesday, sending it to the full Senate for approval.


Thirty-seven abortion clinics in Texas would not be in compliance under the new regulations. Of the 416 ambulatory surgical centers in Texas, five perform abortions.

Abortion rights advocates say Texas women will be forced to seek dangerous and illegal abortions because they will no longer have ready access to the procedure.

Ambulatory surgical centers cost more to build and operate than abortion clinics, which in turn raises the cost of abortions for patients. Whole Woman’s Health, for example, says it spends $40,000 more each month to operate its surgical center than it does for an abortion clinic. Its patients pay $1,277 for an abortion at the surgical center compared with $540 at a clinic.
People who need care will have to travel out of state or, in many cases due to lack of funds and transportation and time, be forced to continue with a pregnancy. Which is, of course, the goal of these legislators (not that they want to expand and fund a working social safety net, either).


Finally, a bit of good news! From the state of Washington, legislators are seriously considering mandating that insurance companies must pay for abortion services just as they are required to pay for maternity services:
The Reproductive Parity Act, as supporters call it, would require insurers in Washington state who cover maternity care — which all insurers must do — to also pay for abortions.

The bill passed the state House earlier this month by a vote of 53-43, though it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. [...]

“It’s not expanding abortion coverage,” said Democratic Rep. Eileen Cody of West Seattle, the bill’s primary sponsor. “It’s ensuring the rights of women to get what they’re paying for now and to continue their freedom of choice.”
The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the Public Health Care Committee on April 1st.

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