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Studies find that women of all religious faiths and traditions, all political affiliations, and all races, classes, and backgrounds have abortions. Columnist Kevin Williamson believes all such women should be hanged.

At least one in three women in the United States will have at least one abortion in her lifetime.

Six in ten American women who have an abortion already have a child, and more than three in ten already have two or more children.

Studies find that women of all religious faiths and traditions, all political affiliations, and all races, classes, and backgrounds have abortions. It is one of the most common and safest surgical procedures in the United States. And these women—women like me, and like countless daughters, mothers, sisters, friends, nieces, and cousins—have abortions for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from their own judgment about whether and when they can afford to have a child (or another child), to experiences of violence and violation, to matters of life and death, to “none of your business.”

A columnist for the National Review believes we should all be hanged.

This weekend, Kevin Williamson, whose Twitter bio describes him as a “roving reporter for the National Review,” declared on Twitter that all abortions should be treated as premeditated homicide, and that women who have had abortions should face capital punishment, namely hanging. No exceptions.

He did not go so far as to describe in what venues these hangings should take place, but it might be fair to assume that Williamson has in mind public executions, so that other women are made very, very sure of their place in society—which is to say, subservient.

Reading several of Williamson’s columns, I see a man who desperately wants to be taken seriously. His pieces are full of pseudo-intellectual musings and plenty of Very Big Words, in a transparent attempt to prove how smart he is. In a recent piece on Lena Dunham and voting, he reveals deep condescension for women, voters, and anyone who is not (according to his judgment) as smart as himself. Voting, Williamson writes, “is the most shallow gesture of citizenship there is.”

That piece is titled “Five Reasons You Are Too Stupid To Vote.” Williamson offers only one reason. Did he forget the other four?

We should perhaps be thankful that, in another tweet, Williamson stated, “I don’t vote.”

In a piece on abortion and capital punishment, he notes that a “consistent life ethic” requires opposition to capital punishment, though he admits to finding reasons capital punishment should still be carried out. Tweeting this weekend, he said, “I’m torn on capital punishment generally; but treating abortion as homicide means what it means.” He further said, “I am against abortion per se in all circumstances.” In other words, he claims a “consistent life ethic,” which would mean he is against capital punishment per se but believes there are circumstances in which capital punishment should be employed anyway. Yet when women’s lives, health, or well-being are threatened, he sees no exceptions for abortion care. Rather, his answer when it comes to women and abortion is to promote capital punishment for them.

In an ongoing Twitter exchange, I asked Williamson if he knew women who had had abortions. He said yes. I asked him if he had told them he thought they should be hanged. No answer. I asked again. No answer. I asked if he would tell the women in his circle who’ve had abortions that he believes they committed homicide. No answer. I asked Williamson if, being consistent and applying the laws he supports to his own family, he would allow his wife to die in a circumstance in which her life were imminently threatened by a pregnancy rather than break his no exceptions rule. He would not answer. I asked if his wife opted for an abortion in a given circumstance, including to save her own life, would he report her to the authorities. Again, no answer. The only reply I got was him calling my line of questioning an “elementary-school trolley problem gambit.”

“Go look it up if you don’t understand,” he added.

In short, he gave no answer when asked to apply his legal proposal to his own family. He refused to take responsibility for the laws and policies he espouses.

Pregnancy, however, is not an elementary school “trolley problem.” It is real life. Pregnancy, labor, delivery, childbirth, child spacing, child-rearing, and feeding, clothing, raising, emotionally investing in, and in all ways caring for children from birth throughout their lives are all real-life issues. Sometimes pregnancy, childbirth, and delivery result in the death or illness of women. These are not theoretical “trolley problems.” They are real. They are practical. They involve tradeoffs. I know this, as I am a mother and a woman who has had an abortion. And I understand that every time a woman faces a pregnancy—intended or unintended, healthy or untenable—she faces a set of circumstances unique to that pregnancy and that moment in her life.

Williamson’s answers therefore reveal exactly the problem with his pseudo-academic approach, and that of the anti-choice movement writ large, to the issues women face in sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and the lifelong commitment to other human beings that is involved in being a parent. He and they are bereft of compassion and understanding for the real circumstances of real women. They lack respect for the intellectual and emotional maturity and responsibility real women take as they make rational decisions about either abortion or childbirth when facing unintended pregnancy. In other words, they do not trust women as moral agents to make choices that are best for them and their families. Anti-choicers like Williamson lack understanding of or just simply deny immutable facts of public health, such as the fact that access to safe abortion care is directly correlated to improved health outcomes for women, infants, and children. He is either unaware of or irresponsibly ignores the fact that in many states in this country women are today being arrested for miscarriage and pregnancy loss on the basis of “suspected abortion.” His answers and his body of work reveal a dangerous mixture of misogyny and disgust for women, a wholesale lack of compassion, an inability to face reality, and complete ignorance of public health, medical, biological, and human rights evidence.

And, tellingly, he is unwilling to apply his own rules to his own family.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2014/09/30/national-review-writer-calls-hanging-women-abortions/

Congress maintained funding for a key family planning program. But President Trump’s abstinence-only Title X chief, Valerie Huber, will decide what to do with the funds.

Top Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress have negotiated a $1.3 trillion “omnibus” spending bill without including proposed attacks on reproductive health care. But the Trump administration could very well continue trying to undermine birth control access for millions of people with low incomes.

Republicans in the House of Representatives didn’t get their long-standing wish to eliminate Title X in the omnibus, which funds the government through the end of the 2018 fiscal year on September 30. The bill passed the House by a vote of 256-167 on Thursday and now proceeds to the Senate, which must pass it by Friday’s deadline to avoid a government shutdown.

The 2,232-page omnibus, unveiled Wednesday evening, ultimately funds Title X, the federal family planning program that helps provide contraception, breast and cervical cancer screenings and STI and HIV testing to a diverse, low-income population. Title X serves 4 million patients, the majority of whom are people of color and have incomes at or below the 2016 federal poverty level, according to the Obama-era annual report on the program.

Congressional negotiators failed to include a bipartisan Senate agreement that would have sought to limit how Trump’s virulently anti-choice U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could spend around $286.5 million in Title X money and $101 million in Teen Pregnancy Prevention money.

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed last September to effectively order HHS to administer both the Title X and Teen Pregnancy Prevention programs as they were under the Obama administration, with its emphasis on evidence-based contraception and embrace of Planned Parenthood, Rewire.News reported. The Susan B. Anthony List subsequently rebuked Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who worked with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) on the language, in a statement that perpetuated falsehoods about Planned Parenthood and the “abortion industry.” By early March, Blunt was open to dropping the bipartisan protection.

Now, Congress is about to hand over the $286.5 million designated in the omnibus for the program to Trump’s abstinence-only Title X chief, Valerie Huber. For the first time ever, Huber’s position will have sole decision-making power to award federal family planning grants, based on Trump-era HHS grant criteria that omitted any mention of “contraception” or “contraceptives.”

Power to Decide praised the omnibus for funding family planning programs. But the advocacy organization dedicated to preventing unplanned pregnancy expressed disappointment that Congress didn’t send a stronger message to the administration.

“We are concerned that the bill fails to include previous bipartisan Senate language, which made crystal clear the important role that Title X has historically played in providing high quality clinical contraceptive services,” CEO Ginny Ehrlich said in a statement.

Ehrlich was pleased that Congress maintained funding levels for both Title X and Teen Pregnancy Prevention. She urged the Trump administration “to honor the intent of these programs.”

Apart from Title X, the omnibus provides $25 million—$10 million more than the last fiscal year according to two different reproductive health advocates—to “exclusively implement education in sexual risk avoidance.” As Martha Kempner wrote for Rewire.News, abstinence proponents have rebranded their work as sexual risk avoidance amid evidence that the programs were “ineffective and even harmful.” But they rely on the “same tactics—using misinformation or questionable research—with an updated focus: reducing poverty.”

The omnibus indeed specifies that so-called sexual risk avoidance grants should emphasize “success sequencing for poverty prevention,” a related concept that Kempner debunked.

Details of the omnibus aren’t likely to change, especially after House passage. The massive legislation has the support of leaders in both parties and chambers. But some lawmakers expressed their opposition to it. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), for instance, vowed to vote against “funding that continues Trump’s war on immigrants,” including money for a border wall and excluding a deal for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus urged all members to oppose the omnibus.

Although Republicans control Congress, Democrats’ votes are needed on both chambers of the Capitol. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), as usual, couldn’t count on the GOP’s ultra-conservative wing to pass a massive spending package on a strict party-line vote. In the House, 111 Democrats voted for the bill. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will need at least some Democrats to reach a 60-vote supermajority and avoid a filibuster.

Democrats may be more inclined to vote for the omnibus without the reproductive health-care concessions that Republicans unsuccessfully demanded.

The omnibus omits the Conscience Protection Act, which would have allowed a broadened swath of health-care providers to sue if they’re supposedly coerced into providing abortion care, or if they face discrimination for refusing to provide such care. A Rewire.News analysis found evidence that congressional Republicans and the religious right have been recycling the same purported conscience violations for years. The Trump administration is encouraging new allegations through its health-care discrimination wing.

A top Senate aide expected the Conscience Protection Act to be in the omnibus, according to Christian Broadcasting Network’s Abigail Robertson. But it wasn’t. Neither was a repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which could politicize churches.

House Republicans in early March wanted to use the omnibus to end all federal funding for Planned Parenthood and ban life-saving research on fetal tissue donated from abortions, according to a Politicostory. Those provisions aren’t in the bill text.

Planned Parenthood, which serves 1.5 million Title X patients in largely rural and underserved areas, nevertheless remains exposed to Trump’s anti-choice health department. Huber, the Title X program head, previously told reporters that Planned Parenthood is “free to apply” for her office’s family planning grants. But the health-care organization is a perennial target of Republicans on Capitol Hill and Trump’s health officials.

Last year, at congressional Republicans’ behest, Trump delivered the final blow to the Obama administration’s Title X safeguards against state-level interference in federal Title X funding for family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood affiliates. Planned Parenthood was the real target of the GOP’s ire over the fact that it provides abortion care with its own funds. More recently, HHS reportedly worked with a hate group to jeopardize Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding stream.

The omnibus, moreover, doesn’t expand discriminatory abortion restrictions into the private insurance market. The manufactured abortion crisis first erupted over an otherwise bipartisan Senate plan temporarily stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, Rewire.News reported in December. This week, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) reneged on the bipartisan stabilization plan he crafted with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), turning to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to craft a partisan alternative that included the abortion restrictionsNeither stabilization bill made it into the omnibus.

The Alexander-Murray stabilization bill could have lowered deductibles for people with low incomes, among other measures, Vox wrote last October. “But the health insurance landscape has shifted since last year, and simply adopting last year’s bipartisan bills, without significant changes, would do more harm than good,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities determined in early March. The landscape shifted in part after Trump signed the GOP’s regressive tax bill and repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate into law.

“It’s unfortunate that Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan have time and time again rejected bipartisan work on health care in favor of partisan health care politics, and chosen politically-driven show votes over getting a result for families,” Murray said in a statement on Wednesday.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/03/22/congress-bipartisan-spending-bill-drops-reproductive-health-attacks-trump-officials-might-pick/

Rep. Dan Lipinski, who has parroted Republican talking points pushing junk science to support anti-choice policies, won with 50.89 percent of the vote.

Anti-choice Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski won his primary on Tuesday by a slim margin against progressive challenger Marie Newman, capping off a race in Illinois’ District 3 centered on Lipinski’s opposition to abortion rights and LGBTQ rights.

As of Wednesday morning, Lipinski had won 50.89 percent of votes to Newman’s 49.1 percent, with less than 2,000 votes separating the two Democrats. The Associated Press called the race in the incumbent’s favor early Wednesday morning. Newman reportedly declined to concede as the results came in Tuesday night.

Newman, a first-time candidate, came within striking distance of a win despite polling released by the campaign in December noting she had low name recognition in the district.

Lipinski’s opposition to abortion rightsLGBTQ equalitythe Affordable Care Act, and other issues commonly safeguarded by Democrats made him the target of progressive groups who hoped to unseat the “Blue Dog” Democrat.

Lipinski’s position on reproductive rights has earned him the support of several anti-choice groups. Not only has he co-sponsored legislation like a ban on abortion at 20 weeks’ gestation, he co-chairs the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus and sits on the federal advisory board of anti-choice group Democrats for Life of America.

Anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List announced this month that it would deploy a team of 70 canvassers in support of Lipinski. The District 3 primary marks the first time that SBA List had canvassed for a Democratic candidate, according to the conservative National Review.

The anti-choice group had supported Lipinski in past races.

During this primary, it spent almost $120,000 “on not just ads and mailers but also money to fly canvassers to the district, put them up at hotels and transport them in vans to various neighborhoods,” CNN reported.

Though Lipinski skipped a scheduled speaking engagement for the anti-choice March for Life in January, he appeared at an affiliated event that week where he lamented that progressive groups had gone “all in” on the race to back Newman. Lipinski parroted Republican talking points pushing junk science to support anti-choice policy and noted that he was “hanging in there” to “evangelize” his opposition to abortion rights, as Rewire.News reported.

Newman had the backing of progressive groups and organizations focused on reproductive rights and health, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and EMILY’s List. Her platform called for the protection of abortion rights, noting her belief that “reproductive decisions belong with women and her right to choose, not with government or politicians.”

Lipinski will take on Republican Arthur Jones in the November midterm elections. The seat is considereda “solid Democratic” stronghold by Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales and Roll Call. Jones ran unopposed in the Republican primary, despite being a neo-Nazi and white supremacist who is openly campaigning as a Holocaust-denier. The state’s Republican Party has disavowed the candidate.

Abortion rights were a central issue in Illinois’ Republican gubernatorial primary, where Gov. Bruce Rauner beat state Rep. Jeanne Ives.

Ives throughout her campaign attacked Rauner’s decision to sign a pro-choice measure last September to expand insurance coverage for abortion care and strike down provisions in the state’s “trigger law” to outlaw abortion should Roe v. Wade be overturned. She vowed to “immediately” sign a measure to repeal it should she be elected.

Rauner will face Democrat J.B. Pritzker in the general election for governor.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/03/21/democrat-backed-anti-choice-groups-claims-narrow-victory-illinois-primary/

U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves wrote that Mississippi Republicans’ 15-week abortion ban was of “dubious constitutionality.”

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) on Monday signed a law—HB 1510—that bans abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation. The law went into effect immediately, giving Mississippi the honor of having the most stringent abortion ban in the United States.

Bryant tweeted that he was “committed to making Mississippi the safest place in America” for fetuses.

By Tuesday afternoon, however, the law was blocked by a federal judge.

Within hours of Bryant signing the law, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization—Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic—challenging the law as unconstitutional and seeking a temporary restraining order to block it.

“Under decades of United States Supreme Court precedent, the state of Mississippi cannot ban abortion prior to viability, regardless of what exceptions are provided to the ban,” the complaint reads.

“Accordingly, the ban is unconstitutional as applied to all women seeking pre-viability abortions after 15 weeks.”

U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves granted plaintiffs’ temporary restraining order on Tuesday afternoon in a brief two-page order. “The Supreme Court says every woman has a constitutional right to ‘personal privacy’ regarding her body. That right protects her choice ‘to have an abortion before viability,’” Reeves wrote, citing Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

“The plaintiffs are substantially likely to succeed on their claim that HB 1510 is unconstitutional. The law threatens immediate, irreparable harm to Mississippians’ abilities to control their ‘destiny and … body,’” Reeves wrote, citing Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. “This is especially true for one woman scheduled to have a 15-week abortion this afternoon.”

The cases Reeves cited—RoeCasey, and Hellerstedt—all prohibit a state from interfering with a pregnant person’s right to a pre-viability abortion. Medical consensus is that a fetus is not viable until about 24 weeks. Anti-choice activists have attempted to roll back the point of viability, arguing that some fetuses can survive outside the womb at 22 weeks.

But no fetus is viable at 15 weeks, as the plaintiffs note in their complaint.

“HB 1510 places viability at 15 weeks—about two months earlier than where the medical consensus places it,” Reeves wrote in his order, noting that the law is of “dubious constitutionality.”

Dubious constitutionality is putting it lightly. Anti-choice politicians have been laser-focused on enacting pre-viability abortion bans—a 20-week ban here, a six-week ban there—but all of them suffer the same problem: They’re wildly unconstitutional.

These abortion bans have been unconstitutional since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, and they will remain unconstitutional unless the U.S. Supreme Court either overturns its landmark decision or reverses 40 years’ worth of case law about the importance of fetal viability. And given the Court’s 2016 Hellerstedt decision, that’s not likely to happen unless President Trump is able to stack the Court with conservative judges.

For now, pre-viability abortion bans like Mississippi’s are unconstitutional.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/03/20/federal-court-already-blocked-mississippis-unconstitutional-15-week-abortion-ban/

As a leader and founding member of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, Slaughter centered reproductive health-care access in her work on Capitol Hill.

Advocates for women, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ equality paid tribute to the legacy of U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) after the death of the 16-term lawmaker late last week.

Slaughter died Friday morning following a recent fall at her Washington, D.C., residence, according to a statement from her office. She was 88 years old.

Slaughter was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986. In 2007, she became the first woman to chair the House Rules Committee. The powerful role put Slaughter in charge of setting procedures to consider legislation, and amendments, on the House floor for a final vote.

As a leader and founding member of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, Slaughter centered reproductive health-care access in her work on Capitol Hill. She redoubled her advocacy under the virulently anti-choice Trump administration.

One of Slaughter’s final actions was to call for the firing of Scott Lloyd at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Lloyd has weaponized his religious beliefs to deny abortion care to undocumented immigrant teenagers, including a teen who had become pregnant by rape.

“We are deeply disturbed by the Trump Administration’s constant willingness to ignore and bend the rules when it comes to women’s rights and reproductive health,” Slaughter and her caucus co-chair, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), wrote in a letter to the thus-far immovable HHS Secretary Alex Azar last month.

After Slaughter’s death, DeGette called her “a warrior for all the issues she cared about.”

“As a champion of women’s reproductive rights, she was especially proud to represent Seneca Falls, home to the first women’s rights convention in the United States,” DeGette said in a statement. “I’ll miss her wisdom and wit every day.”

Slaughter’s legacy dates back to her first years in Congress. In 1991, she was part of a core group of congressional Democratic women who successfully fought to allow Anita Hill’s testimony during Clarence Thomas’ U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Two years later, the microbiologist led congressional efforts to create the Office of Research on Women’s Health within the National Institutes of Health. She also co-authored the original Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994.

Advocates for reproductive rights and health praised Slaughter’s legacy.

“Louise never shied away from an opportunity to speak out and protect a woman’s right to plan her future and control her body,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said. Physicians for Reproductive Health President and CEO Jodi Magee similarly praised Slaughter’s “deep devotion to women’s well-being.”

Slaughter was a longtime LGBTQ ally, breaking ranks with most of her fellow Democrats in 1996 to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act. Her congressional website described her this year as a “major force” in expanding VAWA protections to LGBTQ people, as well as to Native Americans and immigrant women, as part of the 2013 reauthorization of the law.

Slaughter had condemned efforts to expand so-called conscience protectionsgrowing under Trump—that enable health-care providers to turn away LGBTQ patients and deny reproductive health care. She took to the House floor last year to slam Trump’s transgender military ban.

Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) praised Slaughter, a caucus member, as “a champion for the rights of all people, but particularly for the LGBT community.”

“From her leadership on issues from marriage equality to comprehensive nondiscrimination protections, Representative Slaughter fought arm in arm with our community every day,” he said in a statement. “Her wit, passion, and depth of experience will be greatly missed in our Caucus.”

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/03/19/advocates-remember-louise-slaughters-commitment-reproductive-rights-lgbtq-equality/

A bill advancing in the state would ban the procedure before most people even know they are pregnant.

A sign posted on a farm just of I-380 asks voters to vote morally against abortion and gay marriage outside of Waterloo, Iowa, January 25, 2016, ahead of the Iowa Caucus. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images) 

A bill prohibiting the sale of fetal tissue and banning abortion after six weeks passed the Iowa House and Human Resources Committee on Thursday, clearing the way for a floor vote in the state House that reproductive justice advocates say could have sweeping consequences in the state and all but ban the procedure before most people even know they are pregnant.

In a 12 to 9 vote, Iowa lawmakers endorsed the so-called “heartbeat bill”, which would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or approximately six weeks. While the measure allows for an abortion in the case of physical threat to the health of the pregnant parent, no exceptions for rape, incest, or age are included.

“I think it will do a great deal to promote a culture of life in this state,” said Rep. Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville).

That sentiment is far from universal. The bill initially centered on banning the sale of fetal tissue, but the heartbeat component was attached to the legislation as a GOP-led subcommittee considered the measure on Wednesday before the wider House committee passed it on Thursday. Abortion rights supporters lobbied the subcommittee to reject the measure, speaking to their own experiences with the procedure and testifying that the lives of many in the state will be drastically impacted without access to abortion.

“If I did not have the choice to terminate my pregnancy, I would not be with you here today,” said Leah Vanden Bosch, who lives in West Des Moines. “I will not stop saying that until you understand what I am telling you. If someone were to force me to stay pregnant, I would have been so desperate to escape the reality that would have become my life, that I would have been willing to take my own.”

The sole Democrat on the three-person panel, Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (Ames), panned the addition of the six-week ban.

“I am disappointed that we have … basically a bait-and-switch,” she said.

Iowa already has among the most hardline anti-abortion laws in the country. The state currently bans the medical procedure after 20 weeks and requires parental consent for minors seeking abortions. Ultrasounds are mandated for those seeking abortions, while Medicaid-funded abortions must receive special approval by the governor. According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of 2014 some 89 percent of Iowa counties did not have clinics offering abortion.

That scenario mirrors a reality across much of the United States, where hardline laws and ongoing efforts on both the state and federal level have rolled back abortion rights. Heartbeat bills have gained popularity in recent years and present an appealing option for abortion opponents. Despite facing repeated opposition from federal courts and officials concerned over constitutional infringements, lawmakers in Ohio, Arkansas, North Dakota, and elsewhere have all attempted to install such legislation. In January, Republicans introduced a national heartbeat billfor the first time in Congress. Iowa Rep. Steve King (R) made the intention of the bill clear to reporters prior to the bill’s introduction.

“We think this bill properly applied does eliminate a large, large share of the abortions — 90 percent or better — of the abortions in America,” King said.

Iowa’s bill hits out at more than just abortion access. The sale of fetal tissue is another popular area of national debate. While fetal tissue donation is legal on a federal level, U.S. law prohibits any parties from profiting in such exchanges. But in 2015, a series of discredited sting videos released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress purported to show Planned Parenthood representatives engaging in the sale of fetal tissue. The videos set off a firestorm of legislation, in addition to sparking a deadly attack on a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado. Last November, Arkansas cut off Medicaid funding to the organization for a second time, citing the videos as rationale. Earlier this year, Ohio passed a lawrequiring fetal tissue to be either buried or cremated.

That trend seems set to continue in Iowa, where residents expressed concern that the state’s advancing heartbeat bill would negatively impact pregnant people in need of help.

“At six weeks and for some time to come, that fetal heartbeat that’s in the bill is dependent upon another heartbeat,” Jane Robinette, an Urbandale resident, told the Des Moines Register. “What about the heartbeat of the 12-year-old incest or rape survivor who finds herself pregnant? What about the heartbeat of the 50-year-old [parent] of grown children. What about the heartbeat of the teenager who cuts herself because of emotional or psychological trauma or who is suicidal?”

The House bill notably removes language contained in a separate version of the legislation in the Senate repealing Iowa’s 20-week restriction if the heartbeat bill becomes law. Another provision in the Senate bill, which would impose a Class D felony on doctors for performing abortions after six weeks, was also removed. Due to procedural deadlines, the House must approve the bill by Friday in order for it to remain eligible for ongoing debate this session.

Iowa’s efforts are the latest in a recent string of anti-abortion measures in the South, Midwest, and Appalachia. After vowing to “end abortions in Mississippi” in 2014, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) is expected to sign a bill banning the procedure after 15 weeks. In Kentucky, the state House of Representatives passed a bill this week banning the commonly-used  “dilation and evacuation” procedure, or D&E, after 11 weeks. Banning the procedure would make virtually all second trimester abortions in the state illegal. The bill is now headed to the Kentucky Senate.

Source: https://thinkprogress.org/iowa-abortion-restrictions-ca627ba72c1e/

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says that abortion is safe but that “abortion specific regulations in many states create barriers to safe and effective care.”

Bryce Duffy/Getty Images

Abortions in the United States are safe and have few complications, according to a landmark new study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

The report, called “The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States,” examined the four major methods used for abortions — medication, aspiration, dilation and evacuation, and induction — and examined women’s care from before they had the procedure through their follow-up care.

“I would say the main takeaway is that abortions that are provided in the United States are safe and effective,” says Ned Calonge, the co-chair of the committee that wrote the study. He is an associate professor of family medicine and epidemiology at the University of Colorado and CEO of The Colorado Trust.

Calonge says the researchers found that about 90 percent of all abortions happen in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. And complications for all abortions are “rare,” the report says.

But the report did find that state laws and regulations can interfere with safe abortions.

“Abortion-specific regulations in many states create barriers to safe and effective care,” the report says.

Calonge says those rules often have no basis in medical research.

Analysis is limited to facilities that had caseloads of 400 abortions or more per year and those affiliated with Planned Parenthood that performed at least one abortion in the period of analysis.

Credit: National Academies of Sciences; Source: Bearak et al., 2017

“There are some requirements that require clinicians to misinform women of the health risks, that say you have to inform a woman that an abortion will increase her risk of breast cancer,” he says.

There is no evidence that breast cancer follows abortion, for example, but five states require doctors to tell women there is a link, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that focuses on reproductive and sexual health.

“There are policies that mandate clinically unnecessary services like pre-abortion ultrasounds, separate inpatient counseling. There are required waiting periods,” Calonge says.

According to Guttmacher, 27 states make women wait at least 24 hours for an abortion and 11 states require women to have an ultrasound before they can terminate their pregnancy.

And there are state laws that dictate who can perform abortions and where they can do them. Some require all abortions to happen in the equivalent of a hospital or surgery center. Others require a doctor to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The National Academies report says waiting periods and requirements for unnecessary tests can result in long delays because women may have to travel to get care and have trouble getting appointments.

“Delays put the patient at greater risk of an adverse event,” the report says.

Hal Lawrence, the CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says the report settles the debate over abortion-restricting laws and regulations.

“Those sorts of laws have been totally debunked,” he says.

He says the study shows most of those laws do nothing to improve women’s health.

“Abortion is safer when it’s performed earlier in gestation,” Lawrence says. “And so delaying and making people wait and go through hoops of unnecessary, extra procedures does not improve the safety. And actually by having them delay can actually worsen the safety.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 voided some state abortion laws when it ruled that Texas’ strict rules around abortion facilities impose an undue burden on women. But other laws remain in place even without any backing in medical research.

Still, Donna Harrison says there are good reasons for the requirements.

“The tendency to look at abortion as though it were not a serious medical procedure is irresponsible. I mean, we all know that the fetus is killed during an abortion but women can be harmed by irresponsible medical care,” says Harrison, the executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

She says data on complications from abortion is incomplete because doctors and patients don’t always report it accurately, or at all.

There is no good data collection — and when you have garbage in, and you have garbage out,” she says.

And she says waiting periods are important so that women can give fully informed consent before they undergo what she says is a sometimes dangerous, surgical procedure.

The new report — which runs more than 200 pages — addresses most aspects of abortion care, including the use of the abortion pill mifepristone.

For example, it concludes that the strict requirements on how doctors can administer mifepristone may need review. The researchers say the rules may be erecting unnecessary barriers.

The report also says nurse practitioners and physician assistants can perform abortions just as safely as physicians.

Also, abortions have no long-term consequences on women’s physical and mental health, the report says.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/03/16/593447727/landmark-report-concludes-abortion-is-safe