Reproductive Rights Updates: Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, Iowa, North Dakota, Hawaii, & National

Quite a bit has happened in the past few days, some good and some, well, the same anti-autonomy bullshit as ever.

In Michigan, some legislators are trying to make it so more people can legally opt-out of doing their jobs if they don't want to because they choose to believe in some sort of supernatural rule system.
For 35 years, Michigan law has protected health care providers who refuse to perform an abortion on moral or religious grounds.

Hospitals and clinics can't be sued. Doctors and nurses can't lose their jobs for objecting to terminating a pregnancy.

Legislation that could be voted on as early as this week in the Republican-led Legislature would extend the same legal protections for any medical service such as providing contraception or medical marijuana, or taking someone off life support. Employers and health insurers — not just medical providers — also could opt out of paying for services as a matter of conscience.

Supporters say the legislation protects religious freedom and is needed particularly in the wake of the federal health care law mandating employer-provided birth control in their health plans. ...
You know what? If you cannot do your job because of your choice to believe in some set of religious rules, you should find a different fucking job. ESPECIALLY when your job is to provide needed health care and services to people. You are supposed to be a HELPER. Be a sanctimonious asshat when you aren't on the clock.

Also: we see your attempt at a workaround for employers to provide health insurance that includes birth control coverage, Michigan.


In North Carolina, eyeballs are now on the governor:
This session, [legislators] presented a bill that would require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, which can be difficult to obtain.

One recent bill would establish civil penalties for doctors who knowingly perform abortions in cases in which the child's sex is the driving factor. Another would broaden so-called protections of conscience and exempt businesses from providing contraception coverage to employees, which its sponsor acknowledges contradicts federal law.
In his last election debate, Gov. McCrory promised he would not sign any new anti-choice legislation into law. His spokesperson said that McCrory will make the decision when the legislation is on his desk.


In Kansas, as per usual, the governor there signed more anti-choice legislation into law. This time he added his own little flourish on his notes:
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has signed a stringent anti-abortion bill that blocks tax breaks for abortion providers, requires doctors to tell women about the disputed link between abortion and breast cancer, and defines life as beginning at conception in the state constitution.


Before Brownback signed HB 2253 into law at a ceremony at the statehouse on Friday, an AP photo reveals that he made a few additions of his own in his notes on the bill. He typed out some phrases — “building a culture of life,” and “all human life is sacred” — that he ended up using in his speech to abortion opponents before approving the legislation, and he also scribbled “JESUS + Mary” at the top of the paper.
There's an image of his additions at the link.

Kansas is no stranger to horrendous anti-autonomy measures but this is the first time we've seen that particular...personal Brownback.


In Iowa, some good news that almost wasn't: a measure that would have forced people on Medicaid to carry pregnancies to term was defeated by one vote.
The Iowa Senate has narrowly rejected a bid to forbid taxpayer-funded abortions for low-income Iowa women who are the victims of rape or incest.

“As a taxpayer in the state of Iowa, as a woman in the state of Iowa, as a mother — I don’t believe that I or anyone else feels that taxpayers ought to be funding abortion,” said Senator Amy Sinclair, a Republican from Allerton.


Seven taxpayer-funded abortions were performed at the University of Iowa Hospitals in the last half of 2012 for low-income women on Medicaid who were carrying a fetus with a fetal abnormality. Under Sinclair’s proposal, that would change.

“What this does is removes the requirement for every taxpayer to support it,” Sinclair said.

Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, said low income women who have pregnancies that go “tragically wrong” should get taxpayer support for an abortion.

“We’re talking about fetal deformity,” Bolkcom said. “We’re talking about…that newborn baby’s inability to be viable and live outside of the womb.”

The proposal also would have banned taxpayer funding for birth control or prenatal care offered by Planned Parenthood, a move Senator Sinclair supports.

“I do believe that women need access to family planning and prenatal care…through their primary health care providers,” Sinclair said.

Twenty-three senators voted for the new abortion restrictions, but 24 voted against it.
I cannot even with that Sinclair on how cruel and ignorant her statements and reasoning are. I can't. Thankfully for Iowa, there was at least one more person who couldn't either.


Some good news from/for North Dakota (for a change!)
Women in North Dakota got good news Thursday when District Court Judge Wickham Corwin announced at the conclusion of a three-day trial over the constitutionality of North Dakota’s medication abortion ban that he plans to issue a ruling permanently blocking the state’s onerous restrictions on medication abortion as unconstitutional.

The battle began in 2011 when North Dakota passed House Bill 1297, a law that introduced new and unnecessary restrictions on the safe and common use of FDA-approved drugs to induce first-trimester abortions. The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) filed a challenge in July 2011 on behalf of Red River Women’s Clinic—North Dakota’s only abortion clinic—arguing that the law denies women access to an alternative to surgical abortion that has been widely recognized as safe and effective by medical experts and organizations worldwide. The law has been temporarily blocked from enforcement since that challenge, pending the outcome of this trial.
While North Dakota certainly still faces many anti-autonomy challenges, this is very good news for people being able to have a choice in their medical care.


More good news! Yes, really! From Hawaii, the governor signed a new law that says sexual assault victims be must given the choice to take emergency contraception:
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law today a bill that requires Hawaii hospitals to provide female sexual assault victims with medically and factually accurate information regarding emergency contraception as well as provide emergency contraception to all women who accept or request it.


“This bill as it has evolved assures sexual assault victims will receive not just information not just perspective not just inquiry but the opportunity in fact to be able to be assured that they will be not further victimized,” Abercrombie said. “The consequences down the line in terms of pregnancy merely add a factor that no one should have to face.
This has been a very long time coming in Hawaii.


In national news, Senator Gillibrand has introduced new legislation to help military service members:
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined with more than a dozen of her colleagues today introducing the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health (MARCH) Act of 2013, allowing women in the military to use their own money to pay for abortions in military medical facilities. Currently, there is a ban on using private funds to pay for abortions in military hospitals, except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. Under the current law, servicewomen who have an unintended pregnancy may be dissuaded from receiving an abortion at facilities outside of the military base because it is an inadequate facility, there are language barriers, lack of availability, or lack of privacy.

“The MARCH Act is an integral part of protecting women in the military,” said Senator Gillibrand, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Service Subcommittee on Personnel. “This legislation would help to respect our servicewomen’s right to privacy while ensuring that they receive the best medical care possible in a timely manner.”
You may recall that late last year during the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, Senator Jeanne Shaheen intro'd an amendment which required insurance coverage for abortion for military personnel who are victims of rape or incest. Previously, military personnel only had coverage for abortion in situations where the service member would otherwise die without an abortion. The Shaheen amendment passed.

According to the press release, these are the (other) original sponsors of the MARCH Act: Mark Begich, Richard Blumenthal, Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, Al Franken, Tom Harkin, Frank Lautenberg, Jeff Merkley, Patty Murray, Bernie Sanders, Jeanne Shaheen, Sheldon Whitehouse and Ron Wyden.

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