Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle (D) stood up for patients' rights by vetoing a bill last week that aimed to expand so-called 'conscience clause' protections for health care workers. Medical students and pharmacists who refused to participate in medical procedures or fulfill prescriptions they found objectionable would have been covered under the so-called ‘conscience clauses,’ and the bill would have protected workers from punishment even if they refused to refer a patient to another professional for the treatment, reports the Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy Report. The bill would also have lengthened the list of protected procedures to include the destruction of embryos, and the use of embryonic cells or fetal tissue not obtained from a miscarriage or stillbirth, in addition to already-protected abortion, euthanasia and sterilization procedures. The veto will stand, as there are not the necessary votes for an override, according to the Madison Capital Times.
In his veto message, Governor Doyle described this bill as “identical” to one that he vetoed in 2004, and strongly objected to the lack of referral requirements. “This bill doesn't even require health care providers to give you a referral to someone else if they object to a particular treatment,” Gov. Doyle said. “In fact, the doctor wouldn't even have to tell you about a treatment option that might exist. Even if your life was threatened, this bill would allow a doctor to withhold lifesaving medical care.” In a public statement announcing his veto, Doyle said, “Because it puts a doctor's political views ahead of the best interests of patients, this legislation ought to be called the ‘unconscionable clause.’”
Media Resources: Kaiser Network 10/19/05; Press Release from the Office of Jim Doyle, 10/14/05; Governor Doyle’s Veto Message 10/14/05; Madison Capital Times 10/15/05
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. . . .