Legislatures in SD, UT, WY Consider Abortion-Related Bills
State legislatures in South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming are considering recently introduced measures that would affect state abortion policies. In South Dakota, where an extreme abortion ban was defeated by voters in the November 2006 elections and a similar ban was just introduced last week, the House Health Committee approved on a vote of nine to three a bill that would require a physician to offer a sonogram to any pregnant woman seeking an abortion. If the woman refuses the offer to see a sonogram image, her declination must be documented. The bill was introduced by Representative Roger Hunt (R), the author and sponsor of last year's abortion ban in South Dakota who came under criticism for establishing an organization that accepted a large donation to support the ban, but never disclosed the donor's name.
In Utah, the House Health and Human Services Committee voted 6-2 to approve HB 235, which would ban abortion if Roe v. Wade was overturned. The bill does include exceptions, including to "avert a woman's death" or to "avert a serious risk to a woman of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function." The bill also includes exceptions for rape and incest, as long as the incident is reported to law enforcement before the abortion is performed.
Finally, Wyoming's House voted 32-28 to reject HB 144, known as the "Women's Right to Know" bill, which would have required a 24-hour waiting period and a counseling session for any woman considering abortion. In addition, the bill would have required abortion providers to tell women about alternatives to having an abortion and the potential risks of the procedure, including "increased risks of breast cancer," which has not been proven. NARAL Pro-Choice Wyoming Executive Director Sharon Breitweiser said of the vote, "No, we aren't surprised, we're confident that a majority of the representatives respect the doctor-patient relationship and trust women to make decisions," the AP reports.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .