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Afternoon Roundup: Virginia Votes Down A Heap of Anti-Choice Bills

What's behind New York City's abortion rate?; Virginia votes down a host of anti-abortion legislation; what's behind the "nuisance" of a physician providing legal abortion care?; and more.

  • File this under "absurd irony." The extremist anti-legal abortion group, Operation Rescue, issued a press release today concerning a physician who has leased space to open up a practice which would provide abortions, among other health care, in embattled Wichita, Kansas (where Dr. George Tiller was murdered by anti-legal abortion advocate Scott Roeder). When the landlord learned of the doctor's intent to provide abortion care, the landlord told Dr. Mila Means she couldn't because "it would violate provisions of her contract that prohibit causing a nuisance." But why would providing legal health care cause a nuisance? Oh, that's right. Because of anti-abortion protestors outside the clinic. Read further down, in the press release, and you'll read, "Pro-life leaders, including Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, are scheduled to testify about plans to stage continued protests in the event that Means should begin abortions at any location. Operation Rescue led the first protest at Means' office gathering nearly 100 people to oppose her intent to conduct abortions there." So, now we're denying legal health providers the option to provide care because of the protestors who want to deny legal health providers the option of providing care?! (And by the way - the person cited in the release as the patient with whom Dr. Means had inappropriate relations - turns out she married him. I'm not supporting what she did, but I think they left out some information?).
  • The Virginia Senate voted down a whole series of anti-choice sponsored bills this morning, in the Education and Health Committee: "Among those defeated were bills to extend constitutional rights to unborn children (SB1378 and 1207), require an ultrasound before a woman has an abortion (SB1435), make it a crime to force a woman to terminate a pregnancy (SB1217), and to prohibit coverage of abortions by medical insurance exchanges set up to comply with the federal health care law except in cases of rape or health risks for women (SB1202)."
  • Governor Christie of New Jersey vetoed a bill that would have expanded access to Medicaid funded family planning to more NJ residents. Under the new health reform law, the federal government has made it easier to access the funds - and for the states - it's a financial win. Yet Christie cited economic concerns for vetoing the bill; something that didn't make sense to one of the bill's sponsors, Assemblywoman Linda Stender, "He has also said that this issue is purely about money we don’t have, but all this bill would have done is leveraged the money already being spent in our Medicaid budget to obtain additional federal dollars to expand access to health care services for low-income women.”
  • According to a New York Times article today, the abortion rate in the city has not changed for over a decade. The 41 percent abortion rate has remained steady - nearly twice the national average - but behind that rate, notes the article, are "complex social and legal factors: fewer obstacles to abortion in state law; the absence of mandatory sex education in New York City public schools; the ignorance of people, especially young ones, about where to get affordable birth control; and the ambivalence of young women living in poverty and in unstable relationships about when and whether to have children." That's not big news, really. We know that if we focus on reducing unintended pregnancy rates - with comprehensive sex-ed for young people and access to contraception and family planning for all, we'll improve the health and lives of women, men and young people.


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