TX Clinics Win Short-Term Victory Against Efforts to Limit Choice
Texas clinics received a temporary reprieve last Monday from state health officials' demand that they promise, in writing, to stop performing abortions or face the loss of all public funding. Federal District Judge Sam Sparks granted a temporary restraining order against the Texas Department of Health (TDH), which had demanded signed pledges from clinics by 5 p.m. on June 30, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The restraining order exempts the organizations from submitting the pledges for now, and a hearing scheduled for July 25 will determine whether the order will stay in place permanently, the Star-Telegram reported.
Six Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas filed suit against the state on June 26, claiming that TDH's demand and Rider 8, the law that requires the pledge, illegally punish clinics for providing abortions, the Austin Chronicle reported. If the law is upheld, Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates will lose $13 million, most of which they would have spent on providing preventive and routine care, like mammograms and Pap smears, to low-income women, according to the Chronicle. "The funds affected by Rider 8 are not used to provide abortion," said Peter Durkin, chief executive of Planned Parenthood's Houston clinic, according to the Daily Texan . "The money is used to prevent abortion through education and providing access to contraception. It is also used to provide medical services that keep these women healthy."
Rider 8 is only one of several anti-choice measures passed in the recent Texas legislative session. And Texas is not the only state that has attempted to deprive Planned Parenthood of funding. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Missouri's law withholding state funds from Planned Parenthood affiliates there, according to the Texan. But Planned Parenthood's attorney, Jim George, points out that the Texas law interferes with federal funding as well, which is unconstitutional, reports the Texan.
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. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .