Government emails show that federal officials intervened to prevent abortions, forced teenage girls to call their parents and sent them to religiously affiliated “crisis pregnancy centers.”

Office of Refugee Resettlement Director Scott Lloyd
Office of Refugee Resettlement Director Scott Lloyd HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARINGS

In early March, a minor girl staying in a shelter for undocumented immigrants in Texas run by BCFS, a religiously affiliated nonprofit, convinced a judge to let her get an abortion. State law allows minors to obtain permission from a court without the consent of their parents, a step known as a judicial bypass. But little did the girl know that the Trump administration was in the process of putting in place a new policy prohibiting shelters under the authority of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) from “facilitating” abortions without express permission from agency director Scott Lloyd.

When Lloyd, an anti-abortion activist who has argued that “contraceptives are the cause of abortion,” found out about the girl, he sprang into action. According to heavily redacted emails obtained by the ACLU, officials with ORR ordered BCFS to block the procedure. Lloyd also asked a colleague to draft a list of pregnancy centers that offer ultrasounds near the BCFS shelter in San Antonio.

Around the same time, Lloyd personally visited the San Antonio shelter to speak with a Honduran minor, whom the ACLU believes is the same girl who secured the judicial bypass. “Please have her clinician keep a close eye on her,” he wrote to the shelter operator after the visit. “As I’ve said, often these girls start to regret abortion, and if this comes up, we need to connect her with resources for psychological and/or religious counseling.”

It appears that the girl may have never gotten the abortion. An undated document states that an unaccompanied minor in the care of the BCFS facility in San Antonio called her mother in her undisclosed home country “to request a notarized statement authorizing the termination of the minor’s pregnancy,” and that the mother refused. “[The minor] stated that after the phone call with her mother and the amount of time it is taking for ORR approval, she is seeing it as a sign from God and has decided to continue her pregnancy and is no longer requesting termination.”

After ORR intervention, one teen took it as “a sign from God” and rescinded her request for an abortion, redacted ORR documents show.  ACLU/COURT FILING

The girl’s story is one of several revealed in the government emails that the ACLU obtained as part of its lawsuit against ORR. Together, the documents offer a clearer picture of how the agency tries to prevent girls from having an abortion, an issue that received national attention this fall as “Jane Doe” — a 17-year-old from Central America who is detained in South Texas — battled the government in court for weeks for her right to get an abortion. Brigitte Amiri, an attorney with the ACLU, said the latest records, released last week and first reported by Mother Jones, demonstrate that the “Jane Doe” case was far from an isolated instance.

“We’re concerned about whether minors are getting unbiased information about their pregnancy at the outset, regardless of their initial desire to follow one particular course or another,” Amiri told the Observer. “It seems that if someone has specifically asked for an abortion, there’s an attempt to coerce them to carry the pregnancy to term, and if that fails, to engage in outright obstruction, as they did with Jane Doe.”

In all, court records state there were 420 pregnant unaccompanied minors temporarily detained in ORR shelters from October 2016 to September 2017. Of the 18 girls who asked for an abortion, five “rescinded their requests” and 11 went through with the procedure. Two were placed with sponsors, and it’s unclear if they ended up getting an abortion. It’s also unclear how many of the abortions took place after the policy went into effect in early March.

ORR officials declined to comment for this story, citing the pending litigation.

aclu, reproductive rights, abortion, jane doe
Brigitte Amiri, ACLU attorney  ACLU

Amiri said that she believes “pressure, dissuasion and coercion to carry their pregnancies to term” is driving down the number of minors in ORR custody who might otherwise seek an abortion or unbiased counseling.

According to the emails, ORR has forced teenage girls to tell their parents about their pregnancies, and sent them to religiously affiliated “crisis pregnancy centers” that dissuade women and girls from having abortions. Lloyd said in an interview in October that “wherever possible, we need do everything we can to protect life.”

On March 3, just as ORR was implementing its new policy on abortion, a 17-year-old undocumented girl in custody at a shelter in San Antonio run by Southwest Key began a two-step medication abortion that had been approved by a state judge, court records show.

Before she was able to get the second dose of abortion drugs the next day, ORR officials found out about the case and ordered the girl to be examined at a local hospital to check for a fetal heartbeat. The test delayed the abortion by a day. In an email the day after the abortion, Lloyd and two officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees ORR, cast doubt on the girl’s account that she had been raped on her journey to the United States: “Reports of sexual activity with her boyfriend before her departure, along with the gestational age of the child, suggest that the record may not be accurate regarding which encounter resulted in the pregnancy.”

Another email to Lloyd from other ORR officials in May lists updates on seven pregnant teens in ORR custody, including the circumstances of conception and medical updates. Of a 15-year-old in California who was 34 weeks pregnant at the time, the email says: “Child reported the pregnancy was a result of consensual sexual relations however to a 22 yo male in [country of origin]. [Father of the child] was reported by [unaccompanied alien child] to be physically abusive and threatened UAC and unborn child.” The email states there “is no medical concern related to this pregnancy identified at this time.”

A sample of updates sent to Lloyd on pregnant teens in ORR custody in a May email. “Thank you for this detailed update. I really appreciate it,” he responded.  ACLU/COURT FILING

In other instances, Lloyd seemed to go out of his way to steer girls away from their legal rights.

In an internal email regarding a pregnant girl in custody in Arizona who requested an abortion, Lloyd wrote to top ORR officials on March 24 that the “unborn child is a child [in] our care” and instructed the shelter to send her for an ultrasound to a crisis pregnancy center in Phoenix that believes “God has commanded us to offer a Biblical response to the global holocaust of abortion.” He added: “Let’s make sure that she is aware of the option of having spiritual counseling that is sensitive to her religious preference.”

If, after the counseling and ultrasound, the girl still wanted the abortion, Lloyd told his staff that she would need to “obtain parental consent, which will necessitate options counseling with them, plus signed, notarized declaration of consent,” he wrote. “She should not be meeting with an attorney regarding her termination or otherwise pursuing judicial bypass at this point.” According to Arizona state law, a minor seeking an abortion must have written, notarized consent from a parent or guardian, unless she gets permission from a judge — a legal option Lloyd seems to be explicitly forbidding.

But requiring pregnant teens to call their parents about their decision to seek an abortion seems be routine under Lloyd. Jane Doe’s attorneys said shelter employees forced her to call her parents  — who she said were abusive  — to convince her not to have an abortion. In another case, a 14-year-old in ORR custody had a call with her mother, who “reacted negatively” about the pregnancy, an internal HHS email states. The teen, who had chlamydia and was worried about her pregnancy, had a “catastrophic reaction” to her mother’s disapproval and mentioned she wanted an abortion. Then, the shelter called her mom to “assist mom with processing the pregnancy of her daughter,” the email states. “Now both mom and [unaccompanied alien child] have a positive outlook toward continuing the pregnancy to full term.”

A sampling of the documents obtained by the ACLU in its federal lawsuit show tactics used by ORR to dissuade or block girls in its custody from seeking abortion.

https://www.texasobserver.org/documents-trump-officials-block-teenage-refugee-abortion/

Google officials vowed three years ago to scrub misleading crisis pregnancy center ads from its platform. Rewirediscovered the ads remain in communities around the US.

Google is once again scrubbing crisis pregnancy center (CPC) ads from its platform, after Rewire searched for “abortion” in 40 randomly selected mid-sized and major U.S. cities and found at least one anti-choice fake clinic ad nearly 40 percent of the time.

Operated by abortion rights foes, the clinics often imply they provide abortion care by looking like an abortion clinic, opening next door to one, or running abortion ads. Most fake clinics aim to attract pregnant people to deter them from getting an abortion.

Google’s ad policy prohibits misrepresentation, which is why the tech company removed fake clinic ads in 2014, after an investigation by NARAL Pro-Choice America found that most Google searches for “abortion clinic” in 25 major cities produced at least one ad for the anti-choice clinics.

Rewire found misleading Google ads that lead to local anti-abortion clinics and nationwide registries of fake clinics with a toll-free number to call to make an appointment at a neighborhood crisis pregnancy center. There are 4,000 CPCs in the United States, according to a major anti-choice group, far outnumbering abortion clinics.

Last week, after Rewire brought the new batch of misleading ads to Google’s attention, a Google spokesperson said it had taken down ads that violated its policy, but couldn’t say how many CPC ads it had removed. The tech giant said last year it took down 1.7 billion ads for violating its policies.

The placement of the misleading ads revealed apparent gaps in enforcement of local laws meant to crack down on the exact types of ads that Rewire found.

Some ads appear in San Francisco and Oakland, jurisdictions that explicitly outlaw deceptive online advertising by these clinics. Googling “abortion clinic Oakland,” for example, produced an ad that read: “Considering an Abortion? Oakland Abortion Info.” The ad led to Support Circle, a chain of fake clinics in Oakland, San Francisco, and Redwood City.

Last week, a Rewire reporter visited a Support Circle clinic in a high-rise medical building in downtown San Francisco to ask about the Google ads and the clinic’s services. A woman at the reception desk, who identified herself as Claudia, said the facility does not perform abortion procedures or provide abortion referrals because “most of the time, women know where to go.”

“They usually know that they can Google that,” she told Rewire.

She directed Rewire to the executive director of Support Circle, Albert Lee, who did not return Rewire’scall.

Truth-in-advertising ordinances in Oakland and San Francisco bar fake clinics from running false and deceptive ads. Support Circle is well acquainted with the law because in 2011 the nonprofit organization, which was then known as First Resort, sued to block the law in San Francisco. When a three-judge panel upheld the city ordinance in 2017, they wrote that First Resort had lured pregnant people by using Google Adwords to target keyword searches for “San Francisco” and “abortion.” Judge Dorothy W. Nelson wrote, “False and misleading advertising by clinics that do not provide abortions … has become a problem of national importance.”

When Rewire sent screenshots of the Google ads to the city attorneys in Oakland and San Francisco, a spokesperson for the San Francisco city attorney said office policy barred them from commenting on potential investigations. The office said it sent one warning letter to a CPC during the six years the city ordinance has been in effect—and that letter was in 2011.

Erin Bernstein, head of the city of Oakland’s Community Lawyering & Civil Rights Unit, said in a statement the city was looking into “possible violations of the ordinance.”

“If anyone has been deceived or had services delayed due to false or misleading information this group provided, we would like to hear about it,” Bernstein said.

The recent batch of Google ads lead to fake clinics under investigation in other locales. Googling “abortion New York” produces an ad with the URL freeabortionalternatives.com, which is linked to a chain of New York-area CPCs known as Expectant Mother Care (EMC) Frontline. One of EMC’s clinics reportedly told a woman recently that abortion care would cause her to “bleed out and fall into a coma,” as the Village Voice reported. Abortion is safer than a colonoscopy.

Christine Gianakis, with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, said EMC faces a hearing this month for two charges in connection with the city’s Pregnancy Service Center Law for failing to notify the public that the facility does not have a licensed medical provider on staff. The city ordinance, however, does not prohibit false advertising.

In some instances, the registered owners of the domain names in the ads are prominent anti-choice groups that appear to be working in concert to direct pregnant people to anti-choice clinics. For example, Rewire found an anti-choice foundation in the Midwest that bought Google ads targeting coastal cities. Searching for “abortion San Francisco,” “abortion Portland,” and “abortion Miami” produced a CPC ad with the URL youroptions.com.The domain is registered to the Missouri-based Vitae Foundation, which, according to its website, “uses mass media campaigns to reach women facing unplanned pregnancies and create a culture of life.”

Visitors to the page youroptions.com are directed to call an “Option Line,” a toll-free number run by Heartbeat International, a multi-million dollar anti-choice organization based in Ohio. Heartbeat International claims it fields 600 calls a day connecting women to local fake clinics.

The foundation did not respond to Rewire’s request for comment.

“Often there’s this narrative that [CPCs] are community members trying to counsel people, and that’s typically not true,” said Danielle Castaldi-Micca, director of political and government affairs with the National Institute for Reproductive Health, who was involved with New York City’s ordinance. “They’re sophisticated networks of ideologically motivated folks with significant resources behind them.”

The misleading ads come at a time when the regulation of fake clinics faces a fundamental First Amendment test. Next year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal to a 2015 California lawregulating pregnancy resource centers. The law requires CPC staff to notify clients of “public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care, and abortion, for eligible women.” The plaintiffs attorneys’ contend the law forces religiously run centers to convey a pro-choice government message that runs contrary to their faith.

Meanwhile, elected leaders in Hartford, Connecticut, last month weighed a new regulation on fake clinics similar to San Francisco’s and New York’s.

Castaldi-Micca said it’s common for there to be a learning curve before enforcement of laws regulating CPCs kicks in.

“It’s about the city prioritizing that enforcement,” she noted, “but also the advocates ensuring they don’t have a reason to have it fall off the radar.”

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2017/12/08/google-removes-misleading-anti-choice-fake-clinic-ads/

Jill Langlois

Debate over abortion is nothing new in Latin America, where laws banning the procedure have driven millions of women to do it themselves or have it performed clandestinely.

But for five days last month, the controversy had a face in Brazil: Rebeca Mendes Silva Leite, the first woman in this staunchly Christian nation to fight for her own abortion in court.

Six weeks pregnant, the 30-year-old law student didn’t want another child. She already had two small boys, and support from their father barely covered the rent. If she were forced to take time off from school, she would lose her scholarship and have to drop out.

She soon found the #EuVouContar (I Will Tell) blog — part of a campaign by a women’s rights organization to let Brazilians anonymously share their stories of having illegal abortions. That led her to lawyers who hatched a novel legal strategy.

They helped Mendes file a lawsuit against the government demanding permission for an abortion and — given the urgency of her predicament — use a provision of Brazilian law to take her case directly to the Supreme Court.

Brazil, like most countries across the continent, bans abortion in cases where a pregnancy is simply unwanted. The law, which dates back to 1940, makes exceptions for rapes, when a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother or when a fetus has a brain defect known as anencephaly.

Mendes’ lawsuit argued that criminalizing abortion violates fundamental principles of freedom, health and dignity guaranteed by the Constitution.

Her lawyers understood the case was a long shot. But they also knew the power a sympathetic client before the Supreme Court could have in drawing attention to the cause.

Given the stigma of abortion in Brazil, it was difficult to find pregnant women willing to fight public battles. More practically, the slow pace of the courts meant that any suit was likely to be resolved too late to have an abortion — and make it harder for the woman to resort to an illegal abortion.

Mendes, the lawyers said, was the first woman in Brazil to fight for her own abortion in court.

The case, filed Nov. 23, brought instant publicity.

“Roe vs. Wade arrives in Brazil,” said one headline.

“Abortion: Why not put the child up for adoption?” said another.

The majority of people in Brazil say they oppose abortion. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey found that 77% of Brazilians thought that abortion should be illegal in “all or most cases,” while 20% supported legalization.

At the same time, illegal abortions are surprisingly common in Brazil, with one survey last year finding that 1 in 5 women will have had at least one before the age of 40. The study estimated that in 2015, 416,000 abortions were performed in the country, most of them illegal and generally for minority women with lower levels of education.

Mendes aimed her message as much at the public as she did at the court.

In a letter to the judge overseeing her case— which she read in a video for the feminist group Think Olga — she said he situation was the story of many women in Brazil.

“If it’s already difficult for a woman with small children to work in our country, it is impossible for a pregnant woman to be hired for any type of job,” she read. “We will be three people without our basic needs met, not being able to pay rent and without money to buy food. And with all of this difficulty I will have another baby on the way.”

That intensified the social media storm.

“I very much support abortion as long as the murderer dies with the baby,” wrote one commenter.

“Be strong! I’m one of many who hopes reason speaks louder than machismo and that a decision is made in your favor,” said another.

“Rebeca, you don’t have to abort this child,” wrote somebody else. “If you can’t raise it, I have more than enough economic conditions to raise it, and I bet many others do too. Some have already offered to keep the child if you don’t want it, including myself.”

And then the suit ended nearly as quickly as it began.

Five days after the case was filed, Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber ruled that Mendes’ legal argument — known as “breach of basic precept” — was irrelevant, as it only applies to larger, more abstract cases, and not for decisions about individuals.

Mendes’ lawyer Debora Diniz said she worried that the ruling, which was widely celebrated online, would have a chilling effect on other women going public for the cause.

“With the decision the court made today, Rebeca might be the only one,” she said. “I doubt anyone else will want to take this chance again.”

If there is going to be a change in Brazil’s abortion laws anytime soon, they are likely to become stricter, not looser. In early November, a special committee in Congress voted 18-1 in favor of a constitutional amendment that states that life begins at conception and could criminalize all abortions, even in cases of rape. The one vote against the amendment was from the lone woman on the committee.

The bill still has to be put through a more in-depth analysis before moving on to another vote.

Mendes had more immediate concerns after her loss in court.

The next day, she filed a motion to prevent authorities from arresting her if she were to perform her own abortion. The most common is a a widely available ulcer medication known as misoprostol, which can induce labor and abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

As of this week, the court had not made a decision. Diniz declined to say whether Mendes would have an abortion if the court rules against her, or if she has already had one.

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-brazil-illegal-abortions-2017-story.html

Photo via Traci Hahn/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Everything you need to know about accessibility in your state.

The road to accessibility for safe and legal abortions in the United States has been long, dark and exhausting, leading to constant opposition long after Roe v. Wade decriminalized abortion in 1973. On a federal level, it’s illegal to get an abortion in the U.S. “post-viability,” or after a fetus is considered capable of life outside the womb. But as long as Roe stands firm, states can override the constitution with their own regulations and abortion laws.

The Supreme Court’s decision to landmark Roe confirmed that abortion is a constitutional right and launched the fight for women’s reproductive rights. Anti-choice politicians and organizations have always worked to erode women’s rights until abortion is illegal altogether—but under an administration that prioritizes tax bills aimed at cutting basic healthcare for women and their families, pushes a pro-life agenda, and diminishes the right to choose, women’s bodies are even more trapped in the middle of a political tug-of-war.

In an effort to restrict access further, many states place unnecessary burdens on funding, propose “TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws that impose stricter requirements on abortion providers and facilities, and state budget cuts that defund Planned Parenthood. Nearly half of the county requires women to attend state-mandated counseling and wait, often up to three business days or longer, before the expensive procedure. Hurdles like these are intended to change a woman’s mind or covertly delay the procedure until it is no longer legal. Still, one study in Utah shows that a waiting period doesn’t decrease the number of women seeking an abortion, but instead costs the state more money

Depending on where you live, your ability to access a safe abortion varies. In hopes of making a battleground feel less cluttered, here are all the current restrictions, gestational limitations, loopholes, and other abortion laws in all 50 states.

Abortion restrictions by state bar graph

Abortion laws by state in the U.S.

Alabama

Restrictions: Alabama outlaws abortion after 20 weeks since gestation unless it’s to save the patient’s life or in cases of rape or incest. The state also bans a D&E (dilation and evacuation) abortion, a commonly used method for second-trimester abortion, and post-viability abortion unless it’s to save the woman’s life.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed by the state to practice medicine or osteopathy can provide an abortion.

Mandatory counseling and waiting period: A woman seeking an abortion is required to attend biased counseling to discourage her from the procedure, and will be informed of the medical implications and the possible emotional and physical side effects. A woman seeking an abortion must wait for at least 48 hours after receiving the state-prepared documents and mandatory counseling before she can get the procedure.

Funding: The state prohibits public funding for women eligible for state medical assistance for general health care unless the woman’s life is in danger, rape, or incest.

Parental consent: If a woman under the age of 18 seeks an abortion, at least one parent must consent to the procedure.

Alaska

Restrictions: Alaska only allows certain individuals or entities, like hospitals or practices, to refuse to provide abortion services.

Physician requirements: All abortion services must be provided in a hospital, in a facility approved for that purpose by the state, or in a federal government hospital. Only a physician or surgeon licensed by the state can provide an abortion. A woman must also have an ultrasound before the procedure, and the abortion provider is required to ask if they want to see the picture of the unborn child.

Funding: A woman who qualifies for state medical assistance can receive public funds for an abortion only if her health is in danger of the pregnancy.

Mandatory counseling: A woman seeking an abortion is required to attend biased-counseling to discourage her from the procedure. The woman will also be given an option to watch a state-issued video about abortion.

Parental consent: If a woman under the age of 18 seeks an abortion, the physician must inform at least one parental guardian before the procedure.

Arizona

Restrictions: Arizona has a near-total abortion ban where it’s illegal after 20 weeks since gestation unless to save the mother’s life, or in the case of rape or incest. A safe second-trimester abortion is illegal, even if the mother’s life or health is at risk.

Physician requirements: Only physicians approved by the state are able to perform an abortion. Every abortion provider is required to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking an abortion 24 hours before the procedure.

Funding: Arizona state public funds may not cover an abortion unless it is to save a woman’s life, or in the case of rape or incest. However, women on Medicaid will not receive coverage, even if it’s medically necessary.

Mandatory counseling and waiting period: Women are required to attend mandatory biased counseling that is intended to persuade her otherwise. After mandatory counseling, a woman seeking an abortion must wait at least 24 hours before getting the procedure done.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 has to have at least one parent or guardian provide consent.

Arkansas

Restrictions: Arkansas bans abortion procedure after 20 weeks since gestation, unless it’s to save the mothers life, or in the case of rape or incest. A common procedure D&E is banned.

Physician requirements: Only a physician licensed to practice medicine in the state may provide an abortion, and individuals and hospitals can refuse to provide the procedure. A woman is required to receive an abdominal ultrasound before the procedure to determine if the fetus has a heartbeat. If a heartbeat is detected, the procedure is prohibited.

Funding: State public funding and healthcare plans only cover abortions if it’s to save the mothers life, or in the case of incest or rape.

Mandatory counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling intended to persuade her otherwise. Women are also required to attend a state-mandated lecture by the providing physician about the abortion, along with the option to read state-prepared materials. After attending the biased counseling, a woman must wait at least 48 hours before the procedure.

California

Protections: California has extra protections on reproductive rights with the affirmative right to choose written in its state law.

Physician requirements: Anyone with a certified licensed by the state can perform an abortion.

Funding: There is no co-pay for contraceptives and women who qualify for state medical assistance can receive funds for an abortion.

Parental consent: Any woman under 18 years old is required to get parental consent before receiving an abortion.

Colorado

Funding:  Colorado does not provide public funding for state employees or women eligible for medical assistance unless it’s in the case of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life.

Parental consent: Any woman under 18 years old is required to get parental consent before receiving an abortion.

Connecticut

Protections: Connecticut implements protections on a woman’s right to an abortion with an affirmative right to choose in its state law. Victims of sexual assault are also able to receive immediate emergency contraception at a hospital if requested.

Restrictions: Abortion is banned after viability.

Physician requirements: Only state-certified physicians can perform an abortion, and it has to occur in a designated operating room.

Funding: There are no restrictions on funding, any woman who qualifies for state medical assistance may receive public funding for an abortion.

abortion laws

Delaware

Restrictions: Delaware has not repealed its pre-Roe vs. Wade abortion ban, so the state nearly bans it altogether. An abortion is banned after 20 weeks unless the case is reviewed by a hospital authority and finds the abortion is necessary in the case of rape incest, saving the mother’s life, or child deformation or retardation.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed by the state can perform an abortion.

Mandatory counseling and waiting period: The state has an unenforceable law that stating women must receive biased counseling and wait to 24 hours before getting an abortion.

Funding: Public funding is prohibited for women eligible for state medical assistance unless, in the case of rape, incest reported to the police, or to save the mother’s life.

Parental consent: Women under 16 are required to notify their parents at least 48 hours in advance of the procedure. It can be waived by a medical professional if necessary.

Florida

Restrictions: Florida bans an abortion after 24 weeks unless it’s in the case of rape, incest, or to save the woman’s life.

Physician requirements: Abortions are required to be performed in an abortion clinic licensed by the state. The woman is also required to undergo an ultrasound before the procedure, and the physician to offer the woman an opportunity to see a photo of the fetus.

Funding: The state prohibits public funding for women eligible for medical assistance unless its to save the woman’s life.

Parental notification: Women under the age of 18 must notify a parent of the procedure at least 24 hours before. The requirement can be waived by a physician unless it’s in the case of rape or incest.

Georgia

Restrictions: Georgia bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation, unless the pregnancy is not viable, or to save the woman’s life.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed by the state can perform an abortion.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling before an abortion, and then must wait 24 hours after counseling before receiving an abortion.

Funding: Funding for state employees is prohibited unless its to save the woman’s life. State public funding is prohibited as well unless it’s in the case of rape, incest, or to save the woman’s life.

Parental notice: Any woman under the age of 18 must notify at least one parent before the procedure.

Hawaii

Protections: Hawaii created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law.

Physician requirements: Only a state-licensed physician can provide an abortion.

Funding: Women who are eligible for medical assistance can receive public funding.

Idaho

Restrictions: Idaho has an anti-choice law that bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation unless its to save the mother’s life.

Physician requirements: Only a state-licensed physician can provide an abortion.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling before the procedure, and then wait 24 hours after counseling before receiving an abortion.

Funding: Private insurers will only cover abortions if the mother’s life is in danger of the pregnancy. Abortion is also only covered by the insurance plan for public employees if their life is endangered. Public funding is prohibited unless in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

Parental notice: Any woman under the age of 18 must notify at least one parent before the procedure.

Illinois

Protections: Illinois created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed to practice medicine may provide abortion care.

Parental notification: Any woman under the age of 18 must notify at least one parent before the procedure.

Indiana

Restrictions: Indiana bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation, unless the woman’s life or health is in danger.

Physician requirements: Only a physician licensed to practice medicine in the state may provide an abortion. Women must have an ultrasound before the procedure, and the physician must offer the woman a chance to look at the image.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 18 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Public funding is prohibited except for cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Iowa

Restrictions: An abortion may only be performed in the third trimester if the woman’s life or health is in danger.

Funding: Public funding for an abortion are available in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Medicaid must be approved by the governor.

Parental notification: Any woman under the age of 18 must notify at least one parent before the procedure.

Kansas

Restrictions: Kansas has an anti-choice law that bans abortion after 22 weeks since gestation unless it’s to save the mother’s life.

Requirements: Women must have an ultrasound before the procedure, and the physician must offer the woman a chance to look at the image.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women are required to receive biased counseling, and then wait at least 24 hours after being counseled before an abortion.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Public funding is prohibited except for cases of life endangerment.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

abortion laws by state

Kentucky

Restrictions: Kentucky bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation unless it is to save the mothers life, or her health is in danger.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 24 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers in the case of life endangerment. Insurance plans for public employees do not cover abortions. Public funding is prohibited except for cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Louisiana

Restrictions: Louisiana bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation, or post-viability unless it is to save the mother’s life. If Roe v. Wade is overturned abortion will automatically become illegal in the state.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women are required to receive biased counseling, and then wait at least 24 hours after being counseled before an abortion.

Funding: Public funding is only available in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Maine

Protections: Maine created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed to practice medicine may provide abortion care.

Funding: Public funding is available in the case of life endangerment, rape or, incest.

Maryland

Protections: Maryland created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed to practice medicine may provide abortion care.

Funding: Women eligible for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for an abortion.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Massachusetts

Protections: Massachusetts created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law. However, the state bans an abortion after 24 weeks unless it’s to save the woman’s life or when her health is endangered.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed to practice medicine may provide abortion care.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Michigan

Restrictions: Michigan has not repealed its pre-Roe abortion ban, and the court has tried to ban abortion four times. An abortion is banned post-viability unless it is to save the woman’s life.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 24 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment. Public funding is prohibited except for cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Minnesota

Protections: Minnesota created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 24 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Parental notification: Any woman under the age of 18 must notify at least one parent before the procedure.

Mississippi

Restrictions: Mississippi bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation without adequate exceptions. If Roe v. Wade is overturned abortion will automatically become illegal in the state.

Requirements: Women must have an ultrasound before the procedure, and the physician must offer the woman a chance to look at the image.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 24 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Missouri

Restrictions: Missouri bans a safe abortion. Abortion is not legal at or post-viability unless it’s to save the woman’s life or preserve her health.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 72 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Public funding is the same.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

abortion laws in the us

Montana

Protections: Montana created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law. However, an abortion is only legal at or post-viability if it’s to save the woman’s life or preserve her health.

Funding: Public funding is available in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

Nebraska

Restrictions: Nebraska has an anti-choice law that bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation unless it’s to save the woman’s life.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 24 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment. Public funding is only available in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Nevada

Restrictions: Nevada bans abortion after 24 weeks since gestation unless it’s to save the woman’s life or preserve her health.

Funding: Public funding is only available in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

New Hampshire

Restrictions: New Hampshire bans a safe second-trimester abortion with no adequate exceptions to the woman’s health.

Parental notification: Any woman under the age of 18 must notify at least one parent before the procedure.

Funding: Public funding is only available in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

New Jersey

Protections: New Jersey created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law.

Funding: Public funding is available for women eligible for state medical assistance.

New Mexico

Protections: New Mexico created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law.

Funding: Public funding is available for women eligible for state medical assistance.

New York

Restrictions: New York bans abortion after 24 weeks since gestation unless its to save the woman’s life or preserve her health.

North Carolina

Restrictions: Mississippi bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation unless it’s to save the woman’s life or preserve her health.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed by the state can provide an abortion. Women must have an ultrasound before the procedure, and the physician must offer the woman a chance to look at the image.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 72 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Public funding is the same.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

North Dakota

Restrictions: North Dakota has an anti-choice law that bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation unless its to save the woman’s life or preserve her health. If Roe v. Wade is overturned abortion will automatically become illegal in the state. The FDA must also approve abortion medication taken under its protocol.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 24 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment. Public funding is only available in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Ohio

Restrictions: Ohio bans abortion post-viability unless it is to save the woman’s life or if her health is severely in danger. The FDA must also approve abortion medication taken under its protocol.

Requirements: Women must have an ultrasound before the procedure, and the physician must offer the woman a chance to look at the image.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 24 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Public funding is the same.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

ohio abortion law

Oklahoma

Restrictions: Oklahoma has an anti-choice law that bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation unless its to save the woman’s life or her health is compromised.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 24 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment. Public funding is only available in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Oregon

Protections: Oregon created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law.

Funding: Public funding is available for women eligible for state medical assistance.

Pennsylvania

Restrictions: Pennsylvania has an anti-choice law that bans abortion after 24 weeks since gestation unless its to save the woman’s life or her health is compromised.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women must receive biased counseling, and then wait 24 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

Funding: Abortions are only funded by private insurers and insurance plans for public employees in the case of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Public funding is the same.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must receive at least one parent’s consent before the procedure.

Rhode Island

Restrictions: Rhode Island prohibits abortion after viability or when the fetus’s heart is beating unless it’s to save the mother’s life.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed by the state can provide an abortion.

Biased counseling: A woman seeking an abortion must receive biased counseling where a physician informs her of the fetus’s age and nature of the procedure.

Funding: The state prohibits public funding for women seeking an abortion unless it’s int he case of rape, incest, or to save her life.

Parental consent: A woman under the age of 18 seeking an abortion must have at least one parent’s consent.

South Carolina

Restrictions: South Carolina bans abortion after 24 weeks since gestation unless the attending physician writes it is necessary to save the mother’s life. Abortion clinics are also subject to more than 30 pages of regulations that restrict administration, professional qualifications, location and more.

Biased counseling and waiting period: Women are required to receive biased counseling, and then wait at least 24 hours after counseling before an abortion.

Funding: The state prohibits public funding for women eligible for medical assistance unless it’s in the case of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life.

South Dakota

Restrictions: South Dakota has an anti-choice law banning abortion 24 weeks after gestation unless it’s to save the mother’s life.

Physician requirements: Only a physician licensed by the state can provide an abortion.

Biased counseling and waiting period: A woman seeking an abortion must receive biased counseling before the procedure, and must wait at least three business days after counseling to receive an abortion.

Funding: The state prohibits public funding unless it’s to save the woman’s life.

Parental notice: A woman under the age of 18 and not emancipated must notify at least one parent before the procedure.

Tennessee

Restrictions: Tennessee bans abortion after viability unless it’s necessary to save the mother’s life.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed by the state can provide an abortion.

Biased counseling and waiting period: A woman seeking an abortion must receive biased counseling before the procedure, and then must wait at least 48 hours before receiving an abortion.

Funding: Public funding is only available in the case of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life.

Texas

Restrictions: Texas bans abortion 20 weeks after gestation unless it’s to save the mother’s life or in the case of a severe fetal anomaly. An abortion may also only be provided in a licensed abortion clinic. Telemedicine and D&E procedures are banned.

Physician requirements: Only a physician licensed by the state may provide an abortion.

Biased Counseling and waiting period: A woman seeking an abortion must receive biased counseling, and then must wait 24 hours after before receiving an abortion.

Funding: The state prohibits public funding unless the abortion is required to save the mothers life, or it’s in the case of rape or incest.

Parental consent: A woman under 18 seeking an abortion must notify and receive consent from at least one parent unless she is married.

texas abortion law

Utah

Restrictions: Abortion providers must be located within 15 or less from a full-service hospital, and need to have a proper license. The state prohibits an abortion after viability unless it’s to save the mother’s life, prevent a defective birth, or in the case of rape or incest reported to the police. The state also bans a safe abortion without the exception of preserving the mother’s health.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed by the state can perform an abortion.

Biased counseling and waiting period: A woman seeking an abortion must receive biased counseling in person, and must wait 72 hours after counseling before receiving an abortion.

Funding: The state prohibits public funding for an abortion unless it’s in the case of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life.

Vermont

Protections: The state’s constitution protects the right to choose to a greater extent than the U.S. Constitution.

Funding: Women eligible for medical assistance for general health care are able to receive public funds.

Virginia

Restrictions: Abortions are banned after post-viability in the second trimester unless the attending physician and two others approve the procedure is needed to save the mother’s life.

Third-trimester abortion: A third-trimester abortion may be performed only if it’s in the case of saving the mother’s life.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed by the state can provide an abortion. A woman must also receive an ultrasound at least 24 hours before an abortion, and the provider must offer the mother an opportunity to look at the photo.

Biased counseling and waiting period: A woman seeking an abortion must receive biased counseling at least 24 hours before an abortion procedure. The woman then must wait another 24 hours until receiving an abortion.

Funding: Women eligible for medical assistance are not allowed to receive public funding unless it’s to save the mother’s life, or in the case of rape or incest reported to the police. State employees with benefits from the Commonwealth of Virginia Health Benefits Plan may not receive coverage unless it’s with the same exceptions.

Parental consent: Any woman under the age of 18 must have at least one parent’s consent.

Washington

Restrictions: Washington allows certain individuals or private medical facilities to refuse abortion services.

Physician requirements: Only physicians licensed by the state can provide an abortion.

Funding: The state allows women eligible for medical assistance for maternity-care benefits to obtain public funds for an abortion.

Washington, D.C.

Protections: Washington, D.C. created extra protections for reproductive rights by adding the affirmative right to choose into its state law.

Funding: Women eligible for medical assistance may not receive public funding for an abortion unless it’s medically necessary to save the mother’s life.

West Virginia

Restrictions: West Virginia bans abortion after 20 weeks since gestation with no exception of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life. The state also outlaws a D&E procedure.

Biased counseling and waiting period: A woman seeking an abortion must receive biased counseling and a state-mandated lecture by a physician at least 24 hours before an abortion. The woman then has to wait another 24 hours after counseling before receiving an abortion.

Funding: Women eligible for medical assistance may receive public funding for an abortion if it’s medically necessary, to save the mother’s life, or in the case of rape or incest.

Parental notice: A woman seeking an abortion must notify at least one parent.

abortion law

Wisconsin

Restrictions: Wisconsin bans abortion 20 weeks since gestation with no exception of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life.

Physician requirements: Physicians may only provide first-trimester abortion services within 30 minutes of traveling time to the hospital. No exceptions are made for rural areas.

Counseling and waiting period: A woman seeking an abortion must attend biased counseling 24 hours prior to an abortion, as well as a state-mandated lecture. The woman then has to wait 24 hours after counseling to receive an abortion.

Funding: The state prohibits public funding for women eligible for medical assistance unless the pregnancy is a result of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life.

Parental consent: Any minor eligible for an abortion must receive at least one parent’s consent.

Wyoming

Restrictions: Abortion is banned after viability unless it’s to save the mother from “imminent peril” that puts her life at risk.

Physician requirements: Only a physician licensed by the state can perform an abortion.

Funding: The state prohibits public funding for women eligible for medical assistance unless its to protect the mother’s life, the pregnancy is a result of incest or sexual assault and it’s reported to the police five days prior.

Parental consent: Any minor eligible for an abortion must notify both parents and get their consent.

https://www.dailydot.com/irl/abortion-laws/

State GOP lawmakers have moved the anti-choice bill without input from medical professionals, according to advocates, who say the proposal has such narrow exceptions that it could land doctors in prison for providing standard abortion care.

Kelsey Williams said she knew something was wrong when the technician called a doctor during what should have been a routine 20-week ultrasound.

Her world crashed on that February day when the doctor informed her that the fetus had clubbed hands, feet, and severe deformities. He was not moving and would not be able to develop normally.

“We were completely shocked,” she told Rewire.

The doctors gave her three options—carry the fetus to term, opt for genetic testing, or end the pregnancy. Williams, 31, of Pittsburgh, went home devastated.

When the initial shock wore off, Williams decided to have an abortion. She also opted for genetic testing.

“I am forever grateful to the health care and support professionals at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC,” said Williams, who has a 5-year-old.

“On the day of my ultrasound, I had all of my follow-up consultation and care on the spot; they provided me with objective, straightforward information, answered all of my questions, and had all of my testing completed within a few hours,” she said. “And when I decided to end the pregnancy, they also provided me with my abortion care with all of my physicians and midwives working together for my benefit. This continuum of care provided by objective and compassionate professionals is absolutely what got me through those dark days of shock and grief.”

Williams underwent dilation and evacuation (D&E), a common abortion procedure, at 21 weeks and six days into her pregnancy. “It was the hardest week of my life,” she said.

So when she heard about the Republican-backed Senate Bill 3, which would make abortion illegal in Pennsylvania after 20 weeks of gestation, narrowing the threshold from the current 24 weeks, she said her reaction was “visceral.”

“My heart started racing, my palms started sweating .… I really had a physical reaction. I couldn’t wrap my head around it,” she said. “It’s unthinkable to me that legislators find it to be a priority to curtail a woman’s right to choose and to privacy, as if they know what’s best for each and every woman out there. No one can ever know what someone else is going through, what their personal circumstances are, what the baby’s prognosis is, what the woman’s social support or mental health status is. There’s only one person who can know all of that: the woman herself.”

Williams has since been a vocal opponent of the anti-choice bill, which could create one of the strictest abortion restrictions in the United States. It passed 32-18 in Pennsylvania’s Republican-held state senate in February, and was quietly passed Monday by the State House Health Committee. It is now up for a full house vote.

State GOP lawmakers have fast tracked the anti-choice bill without input from medical professionals, according to advocates at the Women’s Law Project (WLP). Officials at WLP charge that the abortion restriction has such narrow exceptions that it could land doctors in prison for providing standard abortion care.

“I share my story, my personal heartache, in hopes that it will give that woman the space to grieve and decide what is best for herself and her baby in private, without interference from legislators. And perhaps my story will also help to protect this constitutional right for us all,” Williams said.

Several women’s rights, physician, and hospital groups have fiercely opposed the fast-moving bill sponsored by state Sen. Michele Brooks (R-Crawford), calling it restrictive, dangerous, and unconstitutional. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who plans to veto it, said it “would be a step backwards for women and for Pennsylvania.”

The state is already among the 19 that have the most restrictive abortion laws.

“We are alarmed by the Pennsylvania legislature’s attempt to interfere in medical practice by outlawing a very safe and common method of abortion care, and banning abortion after 20 weeks,” said Jodi Magee, president and CEO of the Physicians for Reproductive Health. “Individualized care is the cornerstone of the patient-provider relationship, and SB 3 takes safe options away from patients and their health care providers.”

The Women’s Law Project in Philadelphia, a legal advocacy group for women and girls, sent a letterWednesday to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives urging them to vote against SB 3.

Advocates are concerned that the bill criminalizes abortions past 19 weeks and the time-tested D&E procedure, uses non-medical terminology like “dismemberment,” contains a “method ban” provision, threatens to imprison doctors and stands in their way of providing standard care. Plus, it makes no exceptions for fetal anomaly, rape, incest, or unviability and is “blatantly unconstitutional.”

All it has is a narrow exception if the physician “reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent either the death of the pregnant woman or the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the woman.”

There is more work to be done in advancing legislative proposals to support women’s health rather than waste taxpayer time and money to curtail it, advocates told Rewire.

“The women of Pennsylvania need our state legislators to pass workplace accommodations for pregnant women and nursing mothers, protection from the epidemic of sexual harassment, and access to reproductive health care, to name a few,” said Susan Frietsche, senior staff attorney at the Women’s Law Project. “These bills are sitting on a shelf while our lawmakers keep passing abortion restrictions. SB 3 will harm women’s health and take away our rights. It is unconstitutional. We have reason to be outraged.”

Medical experts who have denounced the bill have not been allowed to offer testimony as the bill’s sponsors declined to hold public hearings. Law Project advocates told Rewire that medical personnel in their white coats have become a common sight this year at the State Capitol in Harrisburg as they try to make their voices heard.

“Let’s be clear, this is not about patient safety. This is an incredibly safe procedure,” said Dr. Lisa Perriera, who has been providing abortions since 2003. “The public don’t realize that it is safer to have an abortion at this time than it is to have a full-term pregnancy and birth.”

A doctor at the Philadelphia Women’s Center and a member of the Women’s Law Project board, Perriera told Rewire if this bill was law, she wouldn’t have been able to offer the surgical solution she provided to a woman this week who was at 22 weeks in her pregnancy. The ultrasound showed that the fetus had a serious heart malfunction that surgeons could not fix. Her patient chose “the humane option to have an abortion and not make the baby or herself suffer.”

“These laws are forcing women to be incubators by not allowing them to make choices for their health and for the health of their babies,” Perriera said. “A women must be able to make decisions about her health without interference from politicians.”

A lot of fetal abnormalities are unfortunately not spotted before 20 weeks, which makes the proposed ban even more problematic for doctors and patients, Perriera added.

Williams said she can’t imagine what she would have gone through if she had not had the procedure. She thinks politicians should stop legislating women’s bodies.

“Since my abortion, I’ve had to listen to proponents of these bills like SB3 say that they know what’s best for babies and mothers, that they are the true voice for life. And that’s just flat out wrong,” she said. “I’m the only one in this world who ever held my son, carrying him in my womb for nearly six months. And I loved him enough to let him go so that he didn’t live only to know pain and suffering because life is about so much more than just a heartbeat.”

https://rewire.news/article/2017/12/08/unthinkable-pennsylvania-lawmakers-fast-track-dangerous-anti-choice-bill/

epa05623004 Nico, a rescue dog who belongs to Sharon French, of Cambridge, waits as his owner casts her ballot at the Lexington Avenue Fire House in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 08 November 2016. Americans vote on Election Day to choose the 45th President of the United States of America to serve from 2017 through 2020. EPA/LISA HORNAK
LISA HORNAK/EPA
A dog waited as his owner cast her ballot.

Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed Massachusetts to exclude abortion services from state-funded health care did not collect enough support by a deadline this week to advance to the next step of the process, according to the treasurer of the ballot group.

“We just didn’t get enough signatures,” said Robert Aufiero of the Massachusetts Alliance to Stop Taxpayer Funded Abortions. “People are disappointed, but they are not discouraged.”

As a result of a 1981 Supreme Judicial Court decision, Massachusetts is one of 17 states in the country where state-funded abortions are allowed.

A coalition that supports abortion rights, including Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and the state ACLU cheered the reported demise of the effort.

“We are gratified that our founding document will not be undermined by a small group of people trying to force their dangerous agenda on the women of the Commonwealth,” they said in a statement.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/12/07/effort-ban-state-funded-abortion-services-didn-get-enough-signatures/BRbIcF6EGWOZaqX8os27EK/story.html?utm_content=buffer5b123&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Activists delivered 512,811 comments to the Health Department. Tuesday is the last day people can comment on Trump’s birth control mandate rules.

The Iowa family clinic Chelsea Vargas went to recently closed, forcing her to reconsider her current form of birth control. The clinic provided her a free birth control ring. Without the clinic’s financial assistance, she won’t be able to afford her preferred contraception. (Although most plans cover the ring, she hasn’t been able to pay off her deductible to use her insurance.)

Before the clinic closed, she switched from the ring to an implant, a tiny rod inserted under the skin of the arm that lasts for four years. She doesn’t like that she no longer gets her period because of the implant; she’s noticed she gets more pimples too. The implant is not her preferred option but it’s long-acting unlike the ring, so she won’t have to worry about costs.

 “So I know what it’s like to have your birth control taken away — all the anxiety.” Vargas said. “And I came to support everyone else because I’ve been there.”

Vargas went to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tuesday to support Planned Parenthood as a patient advocate, and a dozen other reproductive and civil rights organizations. Advocacy groups crowded outside HHS to deliver tens of thousands of written testimonies, describing the impact contraceptive coverage has on millions of women and gender minorities.

The Trump administration rolled back the Affordable Care Act (ACA) protection that guarantees no out-of-pocket costs for 18 different methods of contraception. The Trump administration issued two regulations that hobbled the contraceptive mandate: The rules permit some employers — including universities and colleges — to object to providing free birth control, citing religious and moral convictions. Although the rules went into effect immediately, people can formally submit a comment to the federal government.

On Tuesday, various health organizations submitted 512,811.

Reproductive rights activists dropped off tens of thousands of written comments to the Department of Health and Human Services Tuesday morning. Credit: Amanda Michelle Gomez/ThinkProgress
REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS ACTIVISTS DROPPED OFF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF WRITTEN COMMENTS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES TUESDAY MORNING. CREDIT: AMANDA MICHELLE GOMEZ/THINKPROGRESS

“They still have to respond to every comment they actually get,” said Maya Rupert, senior director for policy at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “This rule does not have support.”

The objective for organizers Tuesday was to flood the comment section and communicate to HHS that this is an incredibly important issue; it’s about health care; it’s about economics. And they’ll have to answer to constituents online and in court. (The Center is among several national organizations that filed a lawsuit against the administration’s rules.)

“When they finalize the rule, they are actually going to have to come back through and explain why they have decided to ignore this overwhelming number of people who do not only disagree with the rule but question the legality of it.”

A box full of comments explaining why the Trump administration shouldn't roll back the birth control mandate.
A BOX FULL OF COMMENTS EXPLAINING WHY THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SHOULDN’T ROLL BACK THE BIRTH CONTROL MANDATE.

The effect of the regulations is not yet known, as employers are not obligated to report whether they’re seeking religious or moral exceptions. HHS officials have said they anticipate few employers will seek exemption and if some do, employees can turn to existing programs like family planning clinics. (The Trump administration has already taken steps to strip federal money from some family planning clinics.)

“We don’t know the impact but the agency has sent a clear message that essentially employers and universities can do whatever they want,” said Susan InmanSenior Federal Policy Counsel at the Center. The Center hasn’t been able to catalog the net effect — at least not yet.

Yulisa Vega flew in from Miami, Florida Monday evening. She's been on birth control since she was 16 years old. Credit: Amanda Michelle Gomez Health Reporter ThinkProgress
YULISA VEGA FLEW IN FROM MIAMI, FLORIDA MONDAY EVENING. SHE’S BEEN ON BIRTH CONTROL SINCE SHE WAS 16 YEARS OLD. CREDIT: AMANDA MICHELLE GOMEZ HEALTH REPORTER THINKPROGRESS

Yulis Vega flew in from Miami, Florida Monday evening to support the cause. She started taking birth control since she was 16 years old. She took the pill to regulate her period. Now, she takes birth control not just for pregnancy prevention, but for a medical condition: Twenty-year-old Vega recently learned she has ovarian cysts, and now takes oral contraceptives to treat the cysts. Her ability to get free birth control is not at risk under the interim final rule; she’s on Medicaid. But that’s not the point, she says. It’s larger than her. “Your choice to take birth control shouldn’t be in the hands of your employer, it should be in your hands.” Vega said. “It’s a taboo subject that shouldn’t be taboo. It’s like taking Vitamin C. It’s just something you do for your health!”

So far 37,631 people commented on the moral exemptions rule and 38,613 commented on the religious exemption rule. People have until the end of day to post a comment on regulations.gov.

Source: https://thinkprogress.org/birth-control-mandate-317d52d45d38/