South Carolina Republicans Back Down From Abortion Restrictions to Pass Budget
The South Carolina legislature approved a nearly $5 billion state budget yesterday that includes a provision allowing the state health insurance plan to cover abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's life is in danger. The budget was held up in the state House, but passed on a 64 to 54 vote on the last day of the session after Republicans who had been blocking passage compromised on the abortion language. According to the Statehouse Watch, the Republicans agreed to vote for the budget because of promises that legislative priorities next year will include a bill instituting a 24 hour waiting period for abortions and legislation to end abortion coverage in instances of rape and incest in the state health insurance plan.
Once in the Senate, an initial Senate vote ended in a tie, but the budget was cleared on a 22 to 16 second vote as the legislature narrowly met a 5:00pm mandatory deadline to end their legislative session. Governor Mark Sanford (R) will now consider the budget and potentially issue vetoes
Currently a bill instituting a 24 hour waiting period has been stalled in committee due to disagreements between the House and Senate. While both chambers passed versions of the bill in March, the Associated Press reports that the two disagree on how to calculate the one day waiting period. The House bill begins counting the time when the patient receives an ultrasound, while the Senate proposal allows women to download information about the procedure online and time-stamp it 24 hours before their appointment.
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. . . .