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In Pursuit of Health Care and Justice: My Day in Court with the ACLU

10:02 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

"Justice" by mindgutter on flick

"Justice" by mindgutter on flick

Written by Kari Ann Rinker for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

As some of you may have read here before, I am a participant in the ACLU lawsuit filed against the Insurance Commissioner of the State of Kansas.  I attended the first court proceeding on Friday, during which the ACLU sought an injunction to prevent continued implementation of the law passed on July 1.  My personal insurance policy is up for renewal on October 1, so this injunction is important for my daughter and myself, so that we may retain the insurance coverage for abortion that my current policy offers.

The ACLU’s suit focuses on three points: The law acts as an unconstitutional tax on women, it serves no legitimate state interest, and it constitutes gender discrimination.  Brigitte Amiri with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom project has worked to defend reproductive justice for the past 11 years.  Her constitutional knowledge on the subject is vast.  She spoke to all three of these points during Friday’s hearing. The brief submitted by the ACLU and to which she contributed provides legal and constitutional context to this debate. Read the rest of this entry →

Defending the Rights of the Women Who Defend Us

6:26 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Sarah Lipton-Lubet, ACLU Washington Legislative Office, for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

This week, Reps. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Robert D. Andrews (D-N.J.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) stood up for U.S. servicewomen, and submitted an amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would end the unconscionable policy of denying rape survivors serving in the military health coverage for abortion care. The all-powerful House of Representatives Committee on Rules will decide this week whether this amendment — protecting the health and rights of U.S. servicewomen — deserves to get a vote.

Sexual assault in the armed services is at crisis levels. Tragically, we see story after story of servicewomen being attacked by their own colleagues. In the fiscal year 2010, according to the Department of Defense, 3,158 military sexual assaults were reported, many of which were reports of rape. As DOD officials have stated, even “one sexual assault is one too many,” but the above number — which is in the thousands — barely scratches the surface. Most servicewomen who have experienced sexual violence do not report the incident. Researchers estimate that up to one-third of women experience an attempted or completed rape during their military service.

In the face of this epidemic, federal law denies servicewomen and military families coverage for abortion care, even in cases of rape or incest. … Read more

Life-Saving Hospital May No Longer Consider Itself Catholic

8:47 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amie Newman for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

It’s being characterized as both good news and sad news.

Bishop Thomas Olmstead of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix has formally stripped St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona of its status as an official Catholic hospital after Lloyd H. Dean, President of Catholic Healthcare West, the entity that runs St. Joseph’s Hospital, refused to submit to Olmstead’s demands that the hospital never again perform a life saving procedure on a woman–if said procedure is an abortion.

St. Joseph’s could not, as the Dude would say, “abide.”In a statement released today, Bishop Olmstead explained his reasoning,

“In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld,” Olmsted said at a news conference announcing the decision. “The mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph’s medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed.”

The hospital did, in fact, treat the mother’s “disease” because if they hadn’t not only would she have died but the fetus would have as well. Olmstead’s insistence on calling the fetus, in utero, an “11 week old baby” is not only disrespectful of this woman’s life and health, it’s medically incorrect and absolutely meant to condescend to a woman whose life was saved and whose chidren still have a living mother.

According to a statement from Linda Hunt, president of St. Joseph’s, the hospital does all they can to prioritize the lives of both the fetus and the mother but, “Morally, ethically, and legally we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.” Read more

New Mother’s (False) Positive Drug Test Leads to Baby’s Removal…Poppy-Seed Bagel the Culprit

7:28 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amie Newman for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

We all have nightmares from which we awaken, in the middle of the night, wiping our brows and silently thanking a deity of one sort or another that it was all just a dream.

But for some, as absurd as the events may seem, the nightmare is real. 

The ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of a couple, Elizabeth Mort and Alex Rodriguez, who experienced such a nightmare.

In April of this year, Elizabeth Mort gave birth to a beautiful baby girl; her first child. The baby’s name is Isabella. The threesome (Mort, Rodriguez and Isabella) returned home on April 29th, 2010, from Jameson Hospital where Isabella was born, ready to settle into life as a family. One day later baby Isabella was taken from her parents by Lawrence County Child and Youth Services (LCCYS) and held for five days at an undisclosed location, because Mort had failed a drug test given to her while in the hospital.

Only, she wasn’t on drugs. Not even close.

Mort had eaten a poppy-seed bagel from Dunkin’ Donuts two hours prior to checking into the hospital before giving birth. The drug test picked up on the poppy seeds and came out positive. The agency, with two police officers present, acting on the information from the hospital-administered drug test, took Isabella from her parents. Read more