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Missouri Legislator: Qualified To Legislate Women’s Health Because “My Father Was a Veterinarian”

11:06 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

In Illinois, they run reproductive rights bills through the agriculture committee. In Missouri, they call male lawmakers experts because they are the sons of veterinarians.

Not a joke.

Via Huffington Post:

House Majority Leader Tim Jones (R-Eureka) was on the defensive following an analogy he made during discussion of the bill he sponsored. The legislation would allow medical professionals to deny services like abortion, contraception, male or female sterilization, assisted reproduction and cloning based on religious objections by medical staff. Jones talked about the need for medical teams to be on the same page during a procedure and to ensure that one team member does not object to it.

Jones cited a personal experience he had.

“My father’s a veterinarian. I grew up in operating rooms,” Jones said, referring to how crowded operating rooms can be.

Jones’s defenders say he was misunderstood.  Here is the debate, see what you think.

In Missouri, Legislators Fail to Protect Women’s Basic Rights, Undermining Justice for All

8:11 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Pamela Merritt for RHRealityCheck.org. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

On July 14, 2011, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon allowed two identical abortion restriction bills to become law. In a bizarre move toward the end of the 2011 legislative session, Missouri legislators passed two versions of the same restriction bill, one originally filed in the Senate and the other in the House. The passage of identical abortion restriction bills was likely fueled by more than one legislator wanting to take credit.

Often erroneously reported as banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation, HB213 & SB65 can more accurately be described as eliminating certain health exceptions that protected women facing serious pregnancy-related complications. The legislation changes the factors physicians must consider before performing a post-viability abortion and creates criminal penalties for physicians not following the new regulations. Governor Nixon, a Democrat who successfully ran as a pro-choice candidate in 2008, did not sign the abortion restriction bills into law nor did he veto the legislation.  The identical abortion restriction bills automatically became law once the July 14, 2011 veto deadline passed.

Reproductive justice advocates had hoped that Governor Nixon would veto the abortion restriction bills. In the weeks leading up to the 2011 veto deadline, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an editorial that called on the Governor to do just that and send a message to state legislators that it is time to get serious and cease treating women’s health like a political football. The Post-Dispatch editorial points out that Missouri’s annual legislative pander to anti-choice special interest groups in lieu of focusing on prevention is both fiscally irresponsible and hypocritical; unintended pregnancies cost tax payers billions, while reducing the number of unintended pregnancies would also reduce the number of abortions. But as the hours ticked by Thursday July 14th it became clear that the Governor was not going to capitalize on this leadership opportunity to send a message through his veto.

Continue reading…

What Pharmacy Denials in Missouri Would Mean for Me

8:24 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Pamela Merritt for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Going to the pharmacy and picking up prescriptions is a part of most people’s regular routine.  Consumers go online or place a phone call, schedule a time to pick up their meds and then go get them.  But, as more states debate legislation designed to protect pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions on moral grounds, many consumers may be faced with a debate, forced public disclosures or delay at the pharmacy counter.  Missouri legislators have made filing legislation protecting pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions on moral grounds an annual event.  That trend has resulted in an annual reflection on what a refusal at the pharmacy would mean in my life and the lives of my fellow Missourians.

State Representative David Sater (R) has filed legislation that “specifies that no licensed pharmacy can be required to perform, assist, recommend, refer to, or participate in any act or service in connection with any drug or device that causes a pregnancy to end prematurely resulting in an abortion.”  Since individuals cannot purchase the pill approved for abortion (mifepristone) over the counter, that leaves us with a bill that would protect pharmacists should they refuse to dispense any other medication that they feel may have an adverse affect on a pregnancy.

The intent of this legislation is to mislead Missourians into thinking that emergency contraception, which is available over the counter, is an abortifacient.  It’s not, but that hasn’t stopped anti-choice advocates from saying otherwise. Read more

Report: States Pass Staggering Array of Anti-Choice Laws, Policies and Ballot Measures

6:43 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Live in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona, Missouri or Louisiana? The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) wants you to know that, with the implementation of health care reform in 2014, you will not have access to abortion coverage in your state’s health exchanges. These states have enacted insurance bans on abortion coverage. Five other states considered the bans and the CRR expects more to do so in 2011. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. The 2010 state legislative session has seen legislation forcing women to undergo "biased counseling" (and compelling health care providers to provide said counseling) which may contain medically inaccurate and misleading information, as well as mandatory ultrasound requirements. Some states have pushed anti-provider bills which seek to bar physicians who provide abortion care from a state’s malpractice compensation fund, and bills which force women to return at least twice to a provider before being deemed acceptable to have a legal abortion. States have sought to define zygotes and fertilized eggs as people; and punish women by barring any insurance coverage for abortion – even if the woman became pregnant as a result of rape.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) recently released its summary on the "major trends in anti-abortion legislation that emerged this year and of the onerous abortion restrictions enacted," according to a statement from the organization.  "A First Look Back at the 2010 State Legislative Session," (PDF) details alarming trends among the states to severely restrict access to legal abortion care.

Of particular consequence this past year has been the Nelson Amendment to the health care reform bill, which is responsible for the ban on abortion coverage in the health exchanges. As mentioned above, in response to the provision, five states have already passed similar state bans with more expected. CRR notes that anti-choice proponents’ argument over abortion access in federal health care reform efforts focused on outright false information about the importance of abortion access, as health care, for women in this country.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Trust Women? Not in Missouri

6:45 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Pamela Merritt for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

On March 30 I listened through live audio stream as the Missouri House of Representatives voted to pass the 2010 Abortion Restriction Bill (HB1327/2000). This bill would create new, unnecessary restrictions on access to abortion services in Missouri to join the existing unnecessary restrictions already in place. The legislation also violates a woman’s constitutional right to make an informed decision about abortion.

The debate and vote took place on the same day that organizations opposed to abortion gathered in the state capitol for their official lobby day, so conditions pointed to a perfect anti-choice storm. The leadership, and many within the state legislative body are opposed to abortion, and those who support them in that opposition were on hand to cheer them on in their efforts to restrict access to abortion services in Missouri. There’s nothing like listening to elected officials debate whether women are capable of understanding a medical procedure and making a decision whether to have that procedure to clarify just how ill-informed those elected officials are about state law, how little respect they have for women, and how little they actually know about real women’s lives.

Here are some gems from the Missouri House debate. Representative Cynthia Davis (R-O’Fallon) said, “Abortion is a kind of domestic violence as well,” and went on to say that “women don’t naturally want to kill their offspring. Women who are loved, cared for and supported don’t mind having their own child.” Representative Pratt (R-Blue Springs) and Representative Nieves (R-Union) decided that anyone who voted against the bill was actively "protecting rapists."

Contrary to the bizarre theme presented during the House debate, abortion is the most highly regulated medical procedure in Missouri. The facts about restrictions to abortion services in Missouri are clear. Under the current statute that has been in state law since 1979, “No abortion shall be performed except with the prior, informed and written consent freely given of the pregnant woman.The current law requires that at least 24 hours passes between the first visit to a clinic or doctor’s office and the time of the procedure, the patient confers with a treating physician who gathers and reviews information about the woman and relays information about the abortion procedure and any possible complications or risks.

Some of the requirements include the following.

Prior to the procedure, the woman:

• Has a provider describe the specific abortion procedure and any risks involved to her;

• Has an ultrasound, is informed of the gestational age of the fetus, and is offered the option of viewing the ultrasound;

• Has necessary lab-work done, blood pressure checked, and a bi-manual (pelvic) exam conducted;

• Completes a medical history which is reviewed by trained staff and physician for completeness and clarity; and

• Speaks with staff specially trained to review all options when faced with an unintended pregnancy.

Specially trained staff will:

• Provide information, support and referrals as appropriate;

• Assist the woman in understanding the impact of the pregnancy on her current life situation;

• Help her identify and explore all of the options available to her—childbirth, adoption, or abortion—so she can make the best decision for her;

• Provide support and information to help her cope effectively with the emotional, social, and medical aspects of her situation;

• Make appropriate referrals for prenatal care, OB/GYN care, adoption and situation-specific counseling;

• Educate her about her related reproductive healthcare such as, birth control methods, pre- natal care, HIV and STI prevention and other appropriate concerns;

• Provide information and support as needed to ‘significant others’ who may accompany her;

• On the day of the procedure, conduct a pre-procedural interview to assess whether she is certain of her decision;

• Answer questions regarding risks, complications, and aftercare;

• Provide emotional support during the health care visit including before, during and after the procedure.

 

The 2010 Abortion Restriction Bill is chock full of ridiculous additional hurdles that will do nothing to reduce the number of abortions in the state of Missouri. It would require a doctor to report teens under 18 to the prosecuting attorney for the county in which the abortion procedure is to be performed if they seek an abortion, regardless of whether they actually obtain it, regardless of the fact that they have written permission from the parent, and regardless of the fact that doctors and nurses are already mandated to report abuse if it is suspected. Abortion providers would also be required to use brochures and videos developed by state bureaucrats rather than information developed by trusted medical organizations like the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology or the American Medical Association. These brochures must prominently display the statement “the life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.” The bill would also create the new crime of ‘coercion of an abortion’ whether or not the woman actually seeks and obtains an abortion. And the 2010 Abortion Restriction Bill tells women who are survivors of domestic violence that they will be denied access to medical care if they reveal their circumstances and seek help.

In an amazing hypocritical twist, the Missouri House has wasted countless hours of the people’s time on legislation to “protect” Missourians from the federal government’s healthcare reform bill because they think government shouldn’t be involved in healthcare yet they voted to pass an abortion restriction bill that seeks to insert Missouri state government between patient and doctor. The anti-choice majority in the Missouri House is the very definition of inconsistent, but I guess the message is that government involvement in healthcare is okay as long as it involves denying women our reproductive rights and treating us like children. All eyes now turn to the Missouri Senate, where reproductive justice advocates are working hard to make sure this legislative insult does not become law.

Women of Color and the Anti-Choice Focus on Eugenics

12:30 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Pamela Merritt for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Just days before the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, a fellow activist sent me a link to a video posted by the anti-choice group Bound for Life. I was vaguely familiar with Bound for Life from having seen their members at protests, signature red tape marked with the word “Life” fixed to their mouths.

The video promoted an action that Bound for Life participated in at a new Planned Parenthood clinic being built in Houston. The spin for this specific protest caught my attention. The angle – that reproductive health care providers are organized to increase abortions by people of color in a plot to commit genocide for profit – has been in play by anti-choicers for years. That theory has been, is now, and will always be insultingly paternalistic in its assumptions about women of color seeking reproductive health care. The allegation is also picking up steam this Black History Month.

The first time I watched the video I was struck by the theories promoted through it – that communities of color are tragically ignorant of some long standing genocidal plot and desperately need organizations like Bound for Life to come to educate us, that the size of a reproductive health care clinic is in some way connected to it’s intended scale of abortion services and that the location of that clinic (in communities of color) is proof of some long standing genocidal plot. Bound for Life isn’t alone in putting forth these arguments. Anti-choice groups recently put up billboards in Georgia claiming that Black children are an endangered species and other organizations, like The Radiance Foundation, target religious people of color with the same anti-choice message; their stated goal being to illuminate, educate and motivate their audience.

The fallout from this rhetoric is hard to measure, but I’ve heard of the black genocide conspiracy for years. I am an activist in my home city of St. Louis Missouri and many of the young women of color I work with are aware of the rumors and ask questions about them.

In Missouri, where young people are often denied access to medically accurate comprehensive sex education in public schools, rumors can often be taken as fact. In my volunteer work I have met young women who thought drinking a certain soft drink would either prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections; others who have heard that contraceptives give users HIV; and some who were convinced that the withdrawal method protected them from sexually transmitted infections. In the absence of knowledge, dangerously inaccurate information reigns supreme without challenge or correction.

Read the rest of this entry →