TX Restricts Informed Consent Laws for Abortion Clinics
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled on Friday that Texas abortion facilities may no longer use prerecorded phone messages to inform women about the risks of abortion prior to the procedure, a practice that formerly complied with state law. According to the Examiner Houston, Abbott also ruled that Texas law does not require a doctor to be present when a woman takes mifepristone, alternatively known as RU-486 or the abortion pill. Both of the rulings were at the request of anti-choice Republican State Representative Frank Corte Jr.
In January, Corte asked the attorney general to determine if the Texas Department of State Health Services had adhered to the state's disclosure laws when it permitted the use of the prerecorded messages to fulfill the legal requirements. State law requires that women provide voluntary and informed consent before receiving an abortion. The Examiner reports that Corte claimed using such messages does not fulfill the law's requirements because patients are "not able to participate" in the conversation and may be listening to a recording made by a doctor who is not their attending physician for the procedure. According to the Examiner, Attorney General Abbott agreed with Corte's assessment, writing that "If the legislature desired that such alternatives be available, it could have easily provided for them in the statute. It failed to do so here."
Kathi Seay, a spokesperson for Corte, told the Dallas Morning News that "abortion providers, rather than giving informed intent in person, do not allow a girl to have an interaction beforehand." Kelly Hart, Planned Parenthood of North Texas' director of public affairs, disagreed, stated that doctors do have face-to-face discussions with their patients before the procedure even though they are not required to do so by state law, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Corte also alleged that the Texas Occupations Code requires that a patient's doctor is present when she ingests mifepristone to terminate her pregnancy. However, Abbott rejected Corte's reasoning, stating that Corte's proposed requirement is not legally enforceable by state law.
Media Resources: Examiner Houston 9/25/10; Dallas Morning News 9/25/10
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .