After the election, a new “back to the basics” approach at Planned Parenthood made organizing a priority during the months-long health care debate. The next project: recruiting and training hundreds of volunteers spread out around the country.

Planned Parenthood canvassers go door to door about the Zika virus in Florida last month.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Planned Parenthood canvassers go door to door about the Zika virus in Florida last month.

Planned Parenthood wants to put the next health care fight in the hands of its volunteers.

Over the next 12 months, the 100-year-old women’s health and abortion rights group will build a corps of 600 volunteer-led community organizing teams across the country, each one located near a Planned Parenthood health center, officials said this week.

The new organizing project, seeded with an initial $500,000, begins in September with four regional “bootcamps,” where 1,000 hand-picked volunteers will undergo intensive training, return home with new organizing tools, and form the basis of an effort that Planned Parenthood officials believe is “unlike any other than we’ve ever made.”

That’s how Planned Parenthood’s national organizing director Kelley Robinson described the decision to invest in a nationwide network led entirely by volunteers, focused on building “intersectional” local campaigns to “protect and promote” women’s health. (The $500,000 will be a joint investment made by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its linked political arm, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.)

For the volunteer leaders that Planned Parenthood trains next month, that could mean building local campaigns around legislation in Washington, or sexual-assault awareness on campuses, or ballot initiatives in the state. The idea more broadly, said Nilofar Ganjaie, a lead Planned Parenthood field organizer based in Seattle, is “to actually put this the hands of activists” and “scale up in a way that we haven’t been able to do.”

Looking ahead after the Republican health care defeat, officials see that kind of self-organizing network as the key to more “long-term power” — and the next step in a recommitment to grassroots organizing at Planned Parenthood first set off by last year’s election.

The organization spent millions to support Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including a $30 million push targeting millennial voters in the final stretch to Election Day. When they lost, said Robinson, “the strategy for our organization was called into question.”

“It was time for us to start going back to our block and tackle, meaning it was time to go back to the basics — the things that we’ve always done well to survive in the last 100 years,” she said. “We started thinking about our grassroots first.”

Over the next nine months, as Republicans worked to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and cut or redirect federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the organization developed new organizing tools and added 226,000 volunteers and 1 million total supporters.

In the lead-up to last month’s vote, they held 2,400 marches, meet-ups, phone banks, and rallies, and collected 1 million petition signatures, according to the group. They made 200,000 phone calls to members of Congress, followed by calls to people who live in the same state to tell them to call their members of Congress (including 20,299 to tell Nevadans to call Sen. Dean Heller). They drafted 90,000 supporters to a “Defenders” program, with tools for “real-world actions” and an “Emergency Guide” to the latest “urgent action to focus on.”

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s single largest abortion provider, has been at the center of flare-ups in Congress over abortion, health care, and federal funding since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives seven years ago.

Their work during the health care debate this year, said Robinson, reaffirmed the “grassroots-first” mentality set in November, but left the group seeking more long-term organizing.

“Now we’re ready to turn to a different phase,” she said.

The training work itself won’t exactly be a departure for Planned Parenthood. The group has trained thousands of “patient advocates” to deploy personal testimony in support of the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood clinics, and hosted “Power of Pink” trainings for supporters. The “curriculum” they plan to use next month will be an updated version of one used they’ve used before, though never at a program of this scale.

“We’ve always had local organizers, activists, supporters, but not 1 million new supporters who are ready to come out and do the organizing work,” said Kersha Deibel, the group’s director of constituency organizing.

The 600 volunteer leaders, able to collaborate with local Planned Parenthood staff, will be autonomous, said Ganjaie, the Seattle-based field organizer, who has been helping plan the bootcamp trainings and identify top-tier volunteers to attend.

At each of the four gatherings, planned for Seattle, Phoenix, Charlotte, and Oklahoma City, around 250 hand-picked volunteers will undergo three days of trainings, covering digital programs, protests, congressional town halls, and the more basic work of building volunteer structures. Planned Parenthood will equip volunteers with online tools like phone banks and webinars, an official said, as well as “lots of pink materials, including shirts” — uniform of the “pink army” known to appear at rallies and protests.

As it stands, 600 of the 1,000 expected attendees will be chosen as volunteer leaders.

“We’re looking to pick out volunteer leaders who have naturally demonstrated leadership, folks who are already organizing on their own time,” said Ganjaie.

And after that, she said, they go home and “continue organizing.”

https://www.buzzfeed.com/rubycramer/planned-parenthood-wants-to-build-volunteer-armies-around?utm_term=.nikBmLrZg#.ygaNzOw71

It’s more high-tech than holding signs and yelling. Opponents disrupt phone service, install wi-fi networks designed to confuse patients, and offer ultrasounds in RVs outside at least one clinic.

Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, is at the center of a vicious battle between reproductive rights advocates and incredibly organized anti-abortion groups that launch regular massive clinic protests.

Such protests are far from new. Common tactics include standing outside (and often yelling at) clinics to threatening and sometimes attacking abortion providers.

But protesters at Charlotte’s clinics have begun adopting unorthodox tactics that includes the use of deafeningly loud sound and manipulation of online resources and search engine results.

Calla Hales, the administrator and co-owner of A Preferred Women’s Health Center (APWHC), which is the epicenter of the city’s current anti-abortion protest crisis, estimates that clinic staff began seeing an increase in protesters and a diversity of tactics in June 2016; that surge reflects 2016 National Abortion Federation statistics that reported more than 61,000 instances of picketing nationwide, the highest tally since the group began tracking anti-abortion violence and disruptions in 1977. Since last summer, the clinic has been a target for the ire of hundreds and at times thousands of protesters who block not only patients’ access, but also the neighboring health-care facilities in the business park where the clinic is located.

“There’s always been a protester presence here since this clinic opened in 2000, but it’s never been this hostile,” Hales said. “They’re in the street, they’re stopping cars, they’re saying hostile and inappropriate things on the loudspeakers.” It’s not clear why clinic protests ramped up, but the virulently anti-abortion group Operation Save America, which recently staged massive protests at Kentucky’s sole remaining abortion clinic, is headquartered in the Charlotte suburb of Concord. As a “descendant” of the radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue, the group has a decades-long history of anti-abortion mobilization, particularly blocking clinics.

The car-stopping and road-blocking constitutes a major facet of the issues at A Preferred Women’s Health Center, but it’s not the only one.

The protesters bring with them large RVs advertising ultrasounds (which are required for abortions in North Carolina, but are done within the clinic prior to the procedure) and noise amplifiers like that allow them to preach to clinic staff, patients, and clinic escorts and defenders.

What’s more, Hales says that officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have been slow to respond to protester noise that exceeds acceptable levels stipulated by local ordinances. In the past year, she and her staff filed for thousands of sound permits to block protesters from utilizing speakers that would blare their anti-abortion messages. But the clinic has only been granted permits on less than ten occasions; clinic protesters received them the overwhelming majority of the time. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department could not be reached for comment about its handling of noise complaints. But the city recently changed the application process for sound permits, which could make the outcome more equitable.

Beyond concerns related to sound and the police, there are also issues with a wi-fi node for an open network named “Abortion Info.” Hales believes that one of the large RVs often parked outside the clinic is the home to the network.

Patients seeking internet access inside the clinic will often click the unsecured network, thinking it belongs to the clinic (which doesn’t have an open network due to security concerns). They are instead greeted by a log-in page whose design and logo resembles those of APWHC. To access the internet, people must watch a series of anti-abortion propaganda videos, and some who have logged onto the network reported to clinic staff that they later received calls, emails, and social media messages from people asking them if they need “guidance for abortion care.”

The cybersecurity concerns don’t end there. In March, the clinic’s network firewalls fell to “delay-of-service” attacks, where communications are slowed, often by flooding a system with thousands of false requests. These attacks increasingly target health-care facilities.

The delay-of-service attacks crashed APWHC’s phone and internet service and cost thousands of dollars in repairs. In an interview with the Charlotte Observer, the leader of Cities4Life, one of the main groups targeting the clinic, said that his group had nothing to do with the attacks and insinuated that Hales and clinic staff may have faked the attack for publicity. Since the March hack, Hales reported ten unsuccessful hacking attempts detected by their updated firewall.

Unfortunately, APWHC is not the only Charlotte abortion clinic that has fallen victim to cyberattacks from unidentified sources. According to clinic manager and counselor Sarah Shanks of Family Reproductive Health (FRH), someone not affiliated with the clinic changed its Google business page earlier this year. The attacker changed the listing’s phone number to the clinic’s fax number and changed the login information, so for nearly three weeks, the clinic says it could not reach or be reached by patients calling its regular phone number.

“It was devastating to just hear the fax number ring all day, knowing it was maybe our patients or other people trying to reach us,” FRH’s Shanks said in the hallway of the quiet clinic.

Like APWHC, FRH also experiences some sound-related disruptions. There are fewer protesters at FRH due to location; APWHC is in a high-traffic, accessible business park, and FRH is tucked away in a more industrial neighborhood behind a large wooden fence and a barbed-wire one around the staff parking lot. That solid 6-foot-tall fence, however, doesn’t stop protesters from standing over it with an even taller ladder and a loudspeaker.

Beyond the physical presence and noise the protesters bring, there are also other, more sinister concerns at play. In an incident last fall, an anti-abortion protester made sure APWHC clinic escorts saw he carried a holstered gun though he did not pull it out; North Carolina allows licensed people to carry concealed weapons, but not the brandishing of those weapons. He fled from clinic security when confronted, only to circle the block slowly in his vehicle and park across the street. When the clinic called the police, Hales said a police officer dropped by but did not stop to speak with the man still parked across the street. Nothing more came of the altercation. Though the clinic called 911, Hales said there was no official report filed because no officers came to speak following the incident.

At both clinics, the anti-abortion protester presence has forced clinic staff and volunteers to the defensive—a move they say isn’t always conducive to caring for their patients. At APWHC, it forces them to do more work to counter their opponents’ moves, and sometimes that means resorting to more old-fashioned tactics.

Volunteer Diana Travis’ work with clinic defense includes building baffles around anti-abortion protesters’ sound amplifiers and constructing a 100-foot privacy wall out of black tarp and reinforced PVC pipes every Saturday. She expressed optimism that with sustained pressure from advocates, they can effectively counter protesters.

“I am hopeful things will change, but it’s going to be a long haul and will need constant monitoring,” Travis said.

https://rewire.news/article/2017/08/16/charlotte-protesters-tactical-playbook/

After tortuous passage through congress, Michelle Bachelet’s bill legalising abortion in some circumstances will go before constitutional tribunal

A woman wearing a handkerchief embroidered with a uterus and the Spanish word for “free” participates in a pro-abortion march in Santiago, Chile
 A woman wearing a handkerchief embroidered with a uterus and the Spanish word for “free” participates in a pro-abortion march in Santiago, Chile. Photograph: Esteban Felix/AP

Chile is on the cusp of finalising a landmark ruling to legalise abortion under certain circumstances in a move that would signal a major victory for President Michelle Bachelet.

After two years of fractious debate, a bill that would permit termination of a pregnancy when a woman’s life is in danger, when a foetus is not viable or in cases of rape, could be passed this week.
Under existing law, women who have abortions and those who assist them face up to five years in jail, with hospitals obliged to report any suspicious cases to the police.

However, the bill faces a final hurdle after fierce opposition from the conservative right forced it to be referred to Chile’s constitutional tribunal.

Over the next three days, lawmakers and members of civil society will deliberate before a panel of eight male and two female judges. If endorsed, it will end Chile’s status as the last South American nation with an outright ban on abortion.

The deliberations coincide with the visit of Mike Pence, the US vice-president, who is visiting Chile as part of his South American tour. Pence is fiercely anti-choice, and is seen as highly influential in Donald Trump’s decision to reinstate an expanded, harsher version of the Mexico City policy.

Chile’s long-awaited reform would secure a key legacy for Bachelet, whose current term ends in March. The former head of UN women, who promised to push through the change when she took office for the second time in 2014, has faced a heavy backlash from the conservative right and the Catholic church. Some senators argue the measure violates the constitution, which protects the life of the unborn.

Demonstrations have been held across Chile this week in support of the bill.

Lilian Sepúlveda, a human rights lawyer and vice-president of the global legal programme at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said: “We are at the last significant step of what has been a two-and-a-half year process of advancing this progressive bill. At the end of the day you don’t know how a tribunal is going to rule but we are talking about very strong constitutional arguments in line with human rights.

“This bill is really testament to the response and hard work of women’s rights movements.”

Sepúlveda said she hoped the bill would pave the way for reproductive rights to be legalised on a wider scale.

“It’s a very important step in the right direction, but what we have to remember is the law covers three exceptions. In the longer run we still have a way to go for other women who may have social or economic grounds or other reasons for terminating a pregnancy.”

Chile legalised abortion for medical reasons in 1931, but the procedure was then banned without exception in 1989 as a parting shot from dictator Augusto Pinochet.

José Miguel Vivanco, from Human Rights Watch, will argue at the tribunal that the law is consistent with international human rights.

“Chile’s elite has fully embraced globalisation and a free market economy,” said Vivanco. “But the same elite that travels across the world engaging aggressively in business is, locally, extremely parochial, and will passionately defend views that are frozen in 19th-century rural society and universally challenged in the modern world.

“The law, unfortunately, is not going to allow abortion to protect the health of the mother. Only if her life is in danger will the law allow abortion, and then it will require the opinion of two doctors.

“There are very narrow constraints, and that is the result of very aggressive opposition from the right. It is extremely difficult to predict how the court will react.”

Michelle Bachelet
Pinterest
 Michelle Bachelet delivers a speech at last year’s Ibero-American gender summit in Santiago. Photograph: Sebastian Silva/EPA

Pushing for change in the face of deep-rooted conservatism, Bachelet has faced a rift inside her ruling coalition and objections that the proposed legislation would lead to false rape claims.

However, after congress passed the law Bachelet wrote on Twitter: “Today, women reclaimed a basic right that we should never have lost: being able to choose when we’re living through painful moments.”

The bill is continuous with a wider regional shift to improve the reproductive rights of women. Colombia lifted an outright ban in 2006, while Uruguay – where the termination of pregnancies up to 12 weeks (14 weeks in cases of rape) was approved in 2012 – has led the way on decriminalising abortion.

But El Salvador is among South American countries where punitive ban remains, with women imprisoned even when they have experienced complications or miscarriages.

If legislation is relaxed in Chile, only a handful of countries worldwide, including Nicaragua and Malta, will still have an outright ban – or, as in Northern Ireland, rules so restrictive that they amount to de facto bans.

Last month, an opinion poll by the research firm Cadem found that roughly 70% of Chileans supported legalising abortion under the bill’s criteria.

Rights groups say 60,000 to 70,000 illegal abortions are performed each year in Chile. Between 2010 and 2014, nearly 500 people in Chile faced criminal charges in connection with abortions, according to the reproductive rights group, Miles.

The tribunal must make a final ruling before 28 August.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/aug/16/chile-abortion-ban-constitiutional-tribunal-michelle-bachelet

 

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A protest in India against child sex abuseImage copyrightAFP
Image captionIndia has a grim record of sexual assaults on children, with more than 10,000 raped in 2015

A 10-year-old rape victim who was denied permission for an abortion by the Indian Supreme Court last month has given birth to a baby girl.

The girl is not aware that she has given birth. During her pregnancy she was told her bulge was because she had a big stone in her stomach.

The baby weighing 2.2kg (4.8lb) was delivered by Caesarean section in Chandigarh at 09:22 (03:52 GMT).

Both the mother and the newborn are doing fine, an official told the BBC.

The girl alleges she was raped several times in the past seven months by her uncle, who has been arrested.

Her pregnancy was discovered in mid-July when she complained of stomach ache and her parents took her to hospital.

A local court in Chandigarh turned down the abortion plea on the grounds that she was too far into her pregnancy after a doctors’ panel said that termination of the pregnancy would be “too risky”. Later, the Supreme Court also refused to allow an abortion for her on similar grounds.

Baby ‘to be put up for adoption’

As the baby was born prematurely at 35 weeks, she has been placed in the neo-natal intensive care unit of the hospital where she will remain for the next few days, the BBC’s Geeta Pandey reports from Delhi.

The parents of the 10-year-old girl, who said from the beginning that they did not want to have anything to do with the baby, did not even look at the newborn, our correspondent adds.

The infant will be looked after by the child welfare committee until she is put up for adoption, an official said.

The girl who gave birth is expected to remain in hospital for up to 10 days.

Her case has dominated headlines in India for the past several weeks, with officials saying it is the first-ever case of a child so young giving birth.

Indian law does not allow terminations after 20 weeks unless doctors certify that the mother’s life is in danger.

But in recent years, the courts have received several petitions, many from child rape survivors, seeking to terminate pregnancies after 20 weeks. In most cases, these pregnancies are discovered late because the children themselves are not aware of their condition.

Child welfare activists who interact with the 10-year-old on a regular basis say that is precisely what happened with her – the girl is very innocent and had no idea what had happened to her.

Her parents also missed the telltale signs of her pregnancy perhaps because she’s “a healthy, chubby child”. Besides, they couldn’t imagine that their daughter could be pregnant at 10.


India is home to 400 million childrenImage copyrightAFP

The scale of abuse in India

  • A child under 16 is raped every 155 minutes, a child under 10 every 13 hours
  • More than 10,000 children were raped in 2015
  • 240 million women living in India were married before they turned 18
  • 53.22% of children who participated in a government study reported some form of sexual abuse
  • 50% of abusers are known to the child or are “persons in trust and care-givers”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40961137

A much larger group of employers will be able to opt out of offering insurance plans that cover birth control. Photo: Adam Hart-Davis/Science Photo Library/Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House is on the verge of implementing a rule to roll back the Obama-era requirement that employers offer health-insurance plans that include contraception. The news was confirmed by “two people familiar” with the new rule’s contents, which they say is very similar to a draft leaked in late May.

Much like the draft, this rule would reportedly let a “much broader” set of employers opt out of offering plans that cover birth control, if offering that coverage conflicts with their religious beliefs. It also abolishes a “work-around” the Obama White House put in place that would let women circumvent their employers to get free birth control:

[The] process, which the Obama administration dubbed an accommodation, in which an employer notifies the government of its unwillingness to cover contraceptives. That prompts the insurer administering the employer’s health benefits to assume the cost and administration of providing contraceptives, effectively cutting out the employer.

Trump’s religious base has been after him for months about implementing the rule, which they said “would go a very long way to restoring religious freedom and conscience rights.” But reproductive-rights advocates say it “allow[s] an employer’s religious beliefs to keep birth control away from women,” and is therefore vulnerable to a legal challenge.

From a practical standpoint, this could mean that some of the more than 50 million women the rule has benefited could be forced to pay for their contraception out of pocket — something one in three women voters have struggled to do, according to a 2010 poll. And much like his presidency as a whole, Trump’s new rule would go against popular opinion; according to a January Kaiser poll, 77 percent of women and 64 percent of men supportno-co-pay contraception coverage.

Those “familiar” with the rule told WSJ that, rather than open the rule to public comment, they expect it to take effect as soon as it’s published.

https://www.thecut.com/2017/08/trump-end-obamacare-birth-control-coverage-mandate.html

Hundreds of bills aimed at restricting abortion access are introduced in state legislatures every year, and the ones that become law can have an immediate impact on providers across the country. States that currently have just one abortion clinic are proof of how strict, superfluous requirements force clinics to shutter, leaving women with fewer healthcare options.

Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming each have only one abortion clinic. One. For the whole state.
“Of course, states that have shut down all but a single clinic didn’t get there by accident, but as the result of deliberate steps to deny women access to constitutionally protected healthcare,” James Owens, a NARAL Pro-Choice America spokesperson, told Refinery29. “Unfortunately, these states are not alone, as there has been a concerted, nationwide effort to undermine a woman’s access to abortion for more than a decade.”
Mississippi was left with just one clinic providing abortion procedures 11 years ago — Jackson Women’s Health — and it’s been fighting to stay open ever since. Most recently, a crisis pregnancy center moved in right across the street. These types of anti-abortion organizations advertise as clinics offering women advice on pregnancy options, but in reality, they distribute misleading or false information, exaggerate the risks of having an abortion, and pose “counselors” as medical professionals.
So far, Jackson Women’s Health has managed to keep its door open, but now another one-abortion-clinic state is battling to not become the first state with zero clinics.
Kentucky’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, has effectively shut down abortion clinics and kept an existing Planned Parenthood from providing abortion procedures, leaving the E.M.W. Women’s Surgical Center as the only abortion provider in the state. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Kentucky on behalf of the E.M.W. Women’s Surgical Center in April after the state threatened to revoke the clinic’s license because its agreements with a local hospital and ambulance service allegedly weren’t sufficient. A federal judge allowed the E.M.W. Women’s Surgical Center to stay open until the case concludes.
State requirements forcing abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals are known as TRAP laws — targeted regulation of abortion providers — because the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists consider them medically unnecessary and they force clinics that can’t meet those strict standards to close.
In fact, the Supreme Court ruled last summer that similar laws in Texas were unconstitutionalbecause they create an undue burden for women seeking to end a pregnancy, but other states (like Kentucky) still have these types of laws on the books.
Besides the fact that abortion is legal in the U.S., the main problem with having just one (or zero) abortion clinics in an entire state comes down to access. Do women really have the right to choose an abortion if there’s no feasible way for them to get one?
A lack of clinics forces women to travel really far to get healthcare. When Texas abortion clinics closed after the state withheld their funding in 2011, women whose closest clinic shuttered drove an average of 85 miles for health services. This means an increase in travel costs, childcare expenses, and time off work, all of which make it more difficult for anyone — but especially low-income women — to get an abortion. And if a state is left without any abortion clinics, all of those factors would escalate even further.
The ACLU’s case in Kentucky is set to go to trial in September and will determine whether or not the war against abortion will succeed in creating an abortion-free state in 2017.

HB 214 bars private, state-offered, and ACA abortion coverage

Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, carried the Senate’s version of HB 214, a bill that bans insurance coverage of abortion care. He failed to accept amendments carving out exceptions for rape or incest survivors. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Ecstatic to bring their first child into the world, Austin residents Scott Ross and Jeni-Putalavage Ross approached the 21st week of pregnancy with joy.

But a routine trip to the doctor soon revealed a rare and severe chromosomal fetal abnormality. Their future baby would not survive birth. The doctor recommended termination of pregnancy, a decision the couple did not make lightly. Scott said: “We felt a lot of mental anguish, but we knew the anguish – physical and mental – would be even harder if we carried the baby to term.”

Due to complications, Jeni spent seven days in the ICU. All said and done, the Rosses’ medical bill totaled a whopping $64,000. Thankfully, employer-based insurance covered 90% of the tab. However, an anti-choice Texas bill – inches away from becoming law – would have prevented the Rosses and couples like them from receiving insurance coverage for abortion care. “Under the bill, we would have had to pay out of pocket and would have been in dire financial straits, on top of the pain we felt losing our child,” said Scott, who likened the bill to a “pregnancy tax.”

One of Gov. Greg Abbott’s special session agenda items, HB 214 by Rep. John Smithee, R–Amarillo, (and Senate counterpart SB 8 by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe) bars abortion coverage from private, state-offered, and Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance plans, with an exception for a narrowly defined “medical emergency” but no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities – an especially cruel aspect of the bill that compelled critics and some legislators to dub it the “rape insurance” bill. Women would be forced to somehow anticipate the need for abortion care – an unpredictable life event – and purchase supplemental coverage, defying the point of insurance.

“It’s so frustrating to hear lawmakers call it an ‘elective abortion’ – we didn’t elect to have a child who is incompatible with life,” said Scott. “Like all abortions, it was unforeseen.”

Further, the bill doesn’t require insurance plans to offer the added coverage, or even notify clients if they don’t offer it. “You can be basically flying blind when choosing your insurance plan and not know the plan you’re buying for your family didn’t cover pregnancy termination even if it’s the result of rape or incest,” health care attorney Blake Rocap of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, pointed out to the Senate’s Business and Commerce committee during a Friday hearing (Aug. 11).Bill authors claim the legislation is about “economic freedom” and allowing those who “philosophically disagree” with abortion to not have to subsidize the procedure, but the measure will end up unnecessarily and unfairly pushing abortion further out of reach for women, especially low-income women, pro-choice advocates caution. Texas isn’t alone in banning abortion insurance coverage; other GOP-controlled states have taken on similar laws: 10 states ban abortion from private insurance, and 25 states bar the procedure from health exchanges, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

On Saturday, during a hearing held well after 5pm, Senate Republicans left their empathy and compassion at the door while swatting down Democrat-authored amendments that sought to carve out exceptions for rape and incest victims and for women with severe fetal abnormalities, before eventually ushering the bill along to third reading in a 20-10 vote on party lines. It’s highly expected to pass the Senate’s final hurdle and eventually head to Abbott’s desk to become law. (House Democrats similarly attempted to include those exceptions, but Republicans callously shot them down when passing through HB 214 earlier this week, as noted in this week’s issue.)

“No one plans to be raped. No one plans to have an abortion. This is what I find so egregious about this bill,” said Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, who offered an amendment to protect victims of sexual assault from the potential new law – it was knocked down in a 20-10 vote. “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It should be about us caring about sexual assault survivors.”

With his amendments killed on the floor, the Senate GOP showed Texans how much they care about sexual assault survivors and all women, loud and clear.

https://www.austinchronicle.com/daily/news/2017-08-13/rape-insurance-bill-close-to-becoming-law/