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Texas Health and Human Services Says Women Don’t Want to Change Providers—Actually, Many Can’t

12:58 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Doctor with stethoscope

Texas women struggle to see doctors they trust after changes to health care programs.

Without Planned Parenthood, the new Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP) has seen a 23 percent reduction in medical claims and thousands fewer Texans enrolled in the program in the first half of 2013 as compared to the same period last year, when the program was still the Medicaid Women’s Health Program. The state’s explanation? Women just don’t want to change doctors.

“We expected to see a drop off in the number of claims when we moved to the state program because we knew some women wouldn’t want to change doctors,” said Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) spokesperson Stephanie Goodman in a statement this week.

Goodman’s statement is at best glib and at worst a kind of victim-blaming that puts the responsibility for the state’s failure to provide low-cost reproductive health care squarely on the shoulders of the very people it is supposed to be serving.

The TWHP provides contraceptives and well-woman exams to low-income Texans. From 2007 to 2012, it operated as part of Medicaid, receiving a 90 percent federal match in funds and, at peak enrollment, saw almost 130,000 clients. But in 2012, the state kicked Planned Parenthood out of participating in the program because it considers the organization to be an abortion “affiliate” and thereby ineligible to provide health care using public funds in Texas. At that time, the federal government dropped its support of the program because the arbitrary exclusion of any qualified health provider from a Medicaid program is a violation of the Social Security Act, which dictates that Medicaid enrollees have a right to receive care from the physician of their choosing. To fund a program that denies Texans the ability to see the qualified doctor of their choice would, according to the Center for Medicaid Services, be a violation of its own law.

Undeterred, Texas launched a new, entirely state-funded Women’s Health Program in January of this year, and so far it has seen its service numbers plummet without the involvement of Planned Parenthood, which historically saw about half of all Women’s Health Program patients.

According to preliminary data provided by the Texas HHSC, current enrollment in TWHP is estimated to be about 97,000 clients, the lowest number of enrollees since September 2009, when the program was just two-and-a-half years old. This July, the TWHP counted over 10,000 fewer enrollees than it did in the same month last year. Add this to the fact that, according to the University of Texas’ Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TPEP), more than 60 family planning clinics in Texas—most of which were not Planned Parenthood facilities—have closed since 2011 due to family planning funding cuts, and it’s clear that there’s a serious, and growing, hole in Texas’ reproductive health safety net.

And yet the state says that if fewer and fewer low-income Texans are receiving publicly funded reproductive health care, it must be because women don’t want to change doctors. Considering the very real logistical, physical, and emotional challenges women face now that they have been forced by the state government to find new reproductive health providers, the HHSC’s statement seems an egregious simplification of a deeply complex and personal issue.

Amanda Stevenson, a TPEP researcher who studies the impact of family planning budget cuts on low-income Texans, told RH Reality Check that research shows changing doctors is not simply about personal preferences, but rather about the complex ways Texans choose their providers and the many factors that influence their decisions.

“There’s lots of other complexities that are hidden by [Goodman's] statement,” Stevenson said, citing spatial distribution and capacity of providers as just two factors that affect whether someone is able to switch to a new doctor. “Maybe you don’t want to go to a doctor who is 50 miles from you, but you also sort of can’t,” she said. “Preference is not the right framework for this.”

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Who Really Controls Rick Perry and David Dewhurst?

11:45 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Amanda Marcotte for RH Reality Check.

Texas Lt. Gov Dewhurst

Who controls Rick Perry & Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst? It’s not Texas voters.

Less than a day after pro-choice activists and Democratic state senators defeated a massive anti-choice bill designed to shut down all but five abortion clinics in the whole state of Texas, Republican Gov. Rick Perry announced he would force a second special session of the legislature to force the bill through. He then went on to rub salt in the wound, making mockery of and condescending to state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), who conducted an 11-hour filibuster to keep the bill from a vote, a move that ultimately succeeded despite efforts by the GOP to rig the vote. Just in case you were unsure of Rick Perry’s apparent belief that the main purpose of government is control and surveillance of female sexuality, Perry went on to turn the creepy up to ten, saying, “The louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.”

It’s hard to understand his belligerent, misogynistic behavior in service of a bill that only serves to hurt women’s health while creating a black market for abortion. After all, despite Texas’s conservative reputation, 80 percent of the voters in the state oppose calling special sessions to restrict abortion rights. Perry is doing this song and dance for only one out of five voters, the hardcore religious right, pretty much the only people who approve of this move by Texas Republicans to exploit a legislative loophole set up to deal with emergencies to cram through anti-choice bills that won’t pass regular legislative sessions. How has it gotten to the point where only 20 percent of the voters basically control the politics of a huge state like Texas, putting their vile obsession with punishing other people for sex above more pressing issues like jobs, infrastructure, and the economy? To understand how it happened in Texas is to understand why it is that anti-choice forces in general have so much power in a country where the majority of people are pro-choice and have been for decades.

In sum, the religious right is smart about exploiting the primary system, and your average Republican voter doesn’t know or care enough about how radical their politicians are to stop voting for them. Anti-choicers and hardline conservatives generally are way more likely to vote in primaries than your average voters, which means they consistently pick the most conservative candidate, even if the more moderate one has more experience or a better grasp on reality. The two most prominent voices on the anti-choice side during this abortion battle—Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst—both have learned in the course of their careers that you either pay fealty to the religious right because of this, or you will not be able to move forward in your political career.

Both Perry and Dewhurst have firsthand experience of how important it is for the hard right to like you if you want to run for major office as a Republican these days. Dewhurst learned the hard way, during a 2012 primary runoff against newcomer Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination to the Senate. Even though he’s been a pretty stalwart conservative for his entire career, the largely incorrect perception that he was an old school Republican who is more interested in business than the messy culture wars hurt him in the polls. As the New York Times reported, “Mr. Cruz relentlessly portrayed his opponent as a creature of the establishment who is too quick to compromise,” and primary voters, eager to prove their own culture war bona fides, rewarded Cruz for this posturing by giving him 57 percent of the vote.

Dewhurst learned the lesson: It’s not enough to, say, be anti-choice. You have to act like your very life depends on blocking as many women as possible from safe, legal abortion or the religious right will start to wonder if you’re just a pretender. In that light, Dewhurst’s behavior after the filibuster succeeded makes perfect sense. Most politicians would accept the defeat, read the polls showing most Texans support your opposition on this one, and go home. But Dewhurst likely doesn’t want another Tea Party insurgent running ads implying that he gave up easily, much less that he was beat by a woman. So it’s no surprise that he petulantly issued the threat for the second session as soon as he announced that the Texas senate missed the voting deadline and has run around posturing on this as much as possible for the media.

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U.S. Must Stand Strong on International Agreement to Address Gender Violence

12:36 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

West Hollywood One Billion Rising

Women and their allies everywhere have been speaking out against violence.

One in three women worldwide will be physically, sexually, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. In some countries the number is as high as 70 percent.

This week and last, representatives of nations around the world have gathered to address the global epidemic of gender-based violence at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), an annual meeting to assess progress on advancing women’s rights. Having passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in Congress, despite attempts to block it by extreme conservatives, the United States has demonstrated its commitment to ending gender-based violence at home and can now support the world’s efforts to do the same.

This year alone, headlines from cities all over the globe, from New Delhi to Steubenville, have served as a grim reminder that despite laws, violence against women stubbornly persists. However, in some cases these stories have started positive debates and helped lead to the passage of better laws.

During the 2012 elections in the United States, we listened in horror as conservative candidates made one atrocious statement after another, revealing a complete lack of awareness that U.S. women suffer nearly five million partner-related physical assaults or rapes each year. Some small satisfaction can be found in the fact that these statements cost those candidates their seats. But the harsh reality remains: Too many mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends remain at risk of physical threat.

That’s why the hard-won battle to pass VAWA here in the United States was such a big victory. Signed into law last week, this legislation authorizes programs and policies that protect key populations, including same-sex partners, immigrant women, and Native-American women (allowing them to seek justice when their abusers are not Native-American). To exclude these people would further stigmatize already vulnerable populations when they most need care. Instead, the law will ensure these individuals can get the counseling, shelter, and other services they need to escape violent and abusive situations.

VAWA was first passed in 1994 and has been reauthorized twice since, always with bipartisan support. This latest VAWA reauthorization should not have been controversial. The bill has expanded critical protections with each iteration, reflecting a growing national recognition of the particular needs of marginalized populations.

Now it’s time to leverage this victory and momentum for women’s rights and turn our attention to women and girls beyond our borders.

At this year’s CSW, United States Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said, “Violence against women weakens our communities, stunts our economies, and erodes our common values.”

Advocates for women’s rights must urge the global community to put forth an outcome document that expands protections against violence for women everywhere and protects their reproductive rights, without any caveats or conditions.

As health-care providers, Planned Parenthood health centers see firsthand the damage violence inflicts on women’s bodies and lives—and witness the pervasive fact that marginalized women remain at greatest risk of violence with the fewest resources to combat it.

We know that addressing and preventing violence against women requires working with women’s health providers. Studies have shown that women’s health providers are a critical intervention for women in abusive relationships. In fact, women in family planning centers who received both assessment and counseling on harm reduction strategies were 60 percent more likely to end a relationship because it felt unhealthy or unsafe.

This week, as negotiations come to a close, the U.S. delegation must continue to express strong support for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and urge other nations to do the same. Opponents of women’s health attend these meetings in full force to try to keep reproductive rights out of the discussion. But we can’t have a real conversation about ending sexual violence without making sure protections apply to all women and young people and talking about victims’ access to comprehensive health care

A strong resolution must include a commitment to expand access to sexual and reproductive health services, it must recognize rights, it must include marginalized women, and it must support future generations by pushing for comprehensive sex education that addresses harmful gender norms.

As President Obama said upon signing VAWA last week, “All women deserve the right to live free from fear.” This is true for all women, no matter who they are or where they live.

Photo by Rebecca Dru released under a Creative Commons license.

Is Anti-Choice Colorado Group Encouraging Politicians to Lie About Their Positions?

3:58 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Colorado State Capitol

The Colorado State Capitol. Pro-Lifers use misleading polling numbers to promote their agenda, like a bill banning most abortions in the state.

New polling shows that 80 percent of likely voters are pro-choice, in the sense that they are pro-letting-women-decide-if-they-want-to-have-an-abortion. But they don’t necessarily want to be labeled “pro-choice.”

And half of the people who call themselves “pro-life,” the term traditionally used by folks seeking to ban abortion, are actually pro-choice, if you start digging into what they really think.

The poll, from Planned Parenthood, raises the question, what to do if you’re anti-abortion and you want to get elected?

Anti-choice activists in Colorado have designed ways for anti-choice candidates to run for office and mobilize support from anti-abortion voters, without disclosing to the wider public what they really think about abortion.

Here’s how they’re doing this.

Colorado Right to Life runs a blog stating whether federal and state candidates are “100 percent pro-life.” Last year’s determination was based on a nine-question candidate survey, which asked for yes-no responses to queries on personhood (which defines life as beginning at conception), state funding for abortion, and abortion regulations.

The survey isn’t made public by Colorado Right to Life, but this year, Weld Country freshman State Rep. Stephen Humphrey, a Republican who’s sponsoring a bill banning most abortion in Colorado, including abortions for rape and incest, published the survey on his website.

In a cover letter to Humphrey accompanying the 2012 candidate survey, Colorado Right to Life wrote:

We realize there are a few districts, even Democrat primaries, where a ‘pro-life’ label might keep a good candidate from being elected. If you feel this is one of those rare cases, please answer our survey but clearly indicate that you would prefer back-channel conversations only. We would then want to talk with you over the phone or in person, and we can work out together how you could best be helped.

If you are concerned you don’t know how to properly ‘message’ your pro-life views to voters, we have a veteran political communicator who will volunteer to help candidates in this area–just let us know.

Does the “back-channel” caveat mean Colorado Right to Life would lie on its blog about a candidate’s position on abortion, calling them, for example, supporters of Roe v. Wade when they are not?

If Colorado Right to Life doesn’t lie about candidate positions, what does the phrase “work out together how you could best be helped” mean?

I tried to get a response from Colorado Right to Life, but I was only able to reach former Vice President Leslie Hanks, who told me she was “utterly confident that no he/we wouldn’t lie.”

But how does the “back channel” work? Hanks didn’t say, but Colorado Right to Life should explain it. And let us know whether the same tactics are being used by anti-choice groups in other states.

Otherwise, you can’t help but wonder: does Colorado have stealth personhood supporters at the State Capitol? Secret Planned Parenthood haters? Legislators who would stop a woman raped by her father from having the right to choose abortion?

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Fiscal Conservatism, Texas Style? Texas Family Planning Program Now Serves Fewer Clients for More Money

11:04 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Texans are now getting far fewer family planning services at a higher cost than ever, according to documents submitted to the Department of State Health Services council this week. Just 75,160 low-income clients received publicly-funded family planning services in fiscal year 2012, compared to 211,980 in fiscal year 2010. That was before conservative Texas lawmakers slashed money-saving family planning funds in their 2011 legislative session.

That means Texas is spending more money — about $37 per person — to serve fewer than half the clients it saw two years ago.

This is fiscal conservatism? This is good money management?

This is Texas.

As Jordan Smith at the Austin Chronicle reports, a new funding matrix barred specialty family planning providers — the matrix targeted Planned Parenthood, the most efficient provider of family planning in the state — from receiving Title X family planning money and privileged funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers, which are far less cost-effective than other providers.

But there’s hope: a coalition of reproductive health care providers in Texas is taking a new tactic when it comes to the state’s drastic family planning cuts and attempts to push Planned Parenthood out of the Medicaid Women’s Health Program: they’re going to apply directly to the federal government for Title X (family planning) grant money. If they get the funds, they state health department and the Texas legislature will no longer get to play politics with women’s health. Reports the Texas Observer:

If the coalition wins the federal grant — called Title X (Title 10) — a slice of Texas’ family planning money would no longer go to the state health department — and would no longer be subject to the whims of the Legislature. Instead, the coalition, organized by Fran Hagerty of the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, would distribute the money to family planning providers statewide, including perhaps Planned Parenthood, and restore services to tens of thousands of Texans.

Coalition leader Hagerty told the Observershe wants as many health care providers as possible to sign on to the grant proposal to ensure their funding if they’re successful. Planned Parenthood hasn’t publicly said it’s part of the coalition, but it has been a major target of state lawmakers and bureaucrats who’ve been working to ban it from participating in the WHP.

If the state continues to mismanage its family planning funds–what little it has to work with, thanks to Republican lawmakers–and see such a steep decline in services provided to the low-income Texans that need them the most, Texas can likely look forward to more Medicaid-funded births and higher costs overall for taxpayers.

If Texas conservatives want to save money and reduce abortions that result from unwanted pregnancies, the numbers show that they’re doing everything wrong.

Planned Parenthood Files New Suit in Fight Over Texas Women’s Health Program

12:20 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Andrea Grimes and Jessica Mason Pieklo for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

A huge crowd in front of Planned Parenthood's bus at the Texas Capitol

Women and their allies gather at the Texas State Capitol, April 2012. (Photo: Grimes / Flickr)

Planned Parenthood has filed a new suit in Texas state court claiming that it cannot, under state law, be excluded from participating in the newly-established Texas Women’s Health Program (WHP)—a program which the state created with the express purpose of being able to exclude Planned Parenthood, because Texas considers the health care organization an “abortion affiliate.”

A state judge in Austin issued a temporary restraining order Friday preventing the state from banning Planned Parenthood from the state-run women’s health program. The order was issued a day after a federal appellate court refused to reconsider an earlier 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that allowed the state to implement the ban; Planned Parenthood argued the funding ban should be blocked because it was in violation of federal law.

In the lawsuit filed in Travis County District Court, Planned Parenthood argues that the state’s Affiliate Ban Rule is not authorized by Chapter 32 of the Texas Human Resources Code. That is the state law which establishes the Women’s Health Program.

According to the statute, the program is subject to approval from the federal government and makes any provision “inoperative” if it causes the state to lose federal matching money for the Women’s Health Program. According to the lawsuit, HHSC was not authorized by the Texas legislature to adopt the Affiliate Ban Rule because it makes the Women’s Health Program ineligible for federal funding. The Affiliate Ban Rule is, therefore, invalid as a matter of state law.

In Texas, the Planned Parenthood clinics providing preventive health care to about 50,000 WHP clients or nearly half of the total enrollees in the program are kept completely separate—both financially and physically—from clinics that provide safe abortion care. In fact, pregnant women cannot even participate in the WHP, as the program itself is specifically for the prevention of pregnancy in the first place. Abortion has about as much to do with WHP services as heart surgery might; participants in the program are seen for a very limited selection of reproductive health services, including pap smears and contraception. No WHP patient should ever need an abortion because, if the program works properly as it has done for years, no WHP patient should experience an unplanned pregnancy. 

However, Texas Governor Rick Perry released a statement yesterday in response to the new lawsuit vowing to “keep fighting for life:”

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Hearing on Planned Parenthood and Texas’ Women’s Health Program Pits Science, Health Against Ideology

11:19 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

(image: AnonMoos / wikimedia)

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

Read the rest of Andrea’s coverage of women’s health issues in Texas here and the rest of our coverage on the Texas Women’s Health Program here.

Yesterday, in a packed auditorium at the Texas Department of State Health Services, legislators and supporters of Planned Parenthood in Texas gathered to speak out against proposed rules that would bar Planned Parenthood from participating in the state’s Women’s Health Program, through which PP-Texas has provided the lion’s share of family planning services to low-income women. The new rules are fueled by right-wing lawmakers who want to forgo the available 90 percent of federal funding for the program in order to keep Planned Parenthood–and any other so-called “abortion affiliate”–from providing care via the WHP.

“This is not the better course for a program that is this important,” Texas Sen. Kirk Watson told a panel of DSHS officials. Watson and a group of 24 other Democratic lawmakers requested the public hearing, with Watson calling out DSHS for a “lack of transparency” at yesterday’s meeting. DSHS told RH Reality Check that they called the hearing at the request of lawmakers and also as the result of an online petition from Planned Parenthood supporters.

While a law banning abortion affiliates has been on the books in Texas since 2005, DSHS began enforcing the law this year, excluding the largest provider of WHP services in the state: Planned Parenthood.

“Preventing Planned Parenthood from participating in the Women’s Health Program forces thousands of women to seek alternative providers at the very time we significantly cut the family planning budget in the state,” argued Texas Rep. Donna Howard, referring to the separate but significant cuts in family planning made in 2011.

At the nearly four-hour meeting, forty speakers, including University of Texas reproductive health researchers and community clinic doctors not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, argued in favor of the group’s continued participation in the WHP. Many women spoke through tears about the exams and screenings at Planned Parenthood that had saved them from cervical cancer or allowed them to hold down jobs and school responsibilities when they were struggling to make ends meet.

“It’s really degrading, sitting in a doctor’s office trying to make a decision on whether to pay your utility bill or get medical treatment,” testified one Planned Parenthood supporter. Another spoke up for the accessibility of Planned Parenthood, which could see her more quickly than her regular doctor, at whose office she couldn’t afford to get the treatment she needed.

“Even a week can feel like a really long time when you’re wondering if you have cancer,” said the woman.

Others took more logistical approaches, citing the obvious financial benefits of maintaining a funding structure that tremendously benefits money-strapped Texas. If it excludes Planned Parenthood from the program, Texas is responsible for funding 100 percent of a program it had previously only funded at 10 percent–and officials have said they believe they can provide the same quality of care, despite the state’s budget woes. That didn’t jibe with speaker Sheila Sorvari.

“For all of us who are paying attention and can basically do the math, it’s clear the money doesn’t add up,” she said in an impassioned and occasionally sarcastic speech that drew wild applause from the audience. “I don’t know what’s wrong with our legislators that they’ve decided that facts and data and logic no longer have a place in Texas.”

Sorvari also didn’t buy the line that excluding Planned Parenthood from the WHP wouldn’t affect access to providers

“Offer everyone a door-to-door car service,” she suggested to DSHS, if women were now going to be asked to avoid the Planned Parenthood clinics closest to their homes.

A handful of anti-Planned Parenthood speakers attended the meeting, including notorious Planned Parenthood defector Abby Johnson, who has made a career out of her role as a former clinic director.

“There are no doctors at Planned Parenthood health centers,” she said, claiming that Planned Parenthood provides Medicaid-funded abortions on demand at every clinic. She gave her speech over murmers of a crowd quietly grumbling and contradicting her at every opportunity.

The final minutes of the meeting were dominated by anti-Planned Parenthood speakers who took the opportunity to rail not only against abortion but against the evils of birth control.

“It’s synthetic,” said one woman, who said she didn’t understand why women would poison their bodies with contraception. Another woman said she knew abortion was wrong because, as a sidewalk protestor outside abortion clinics, she’d seen women who’d just gotten abortions and “they don’t look very good at all.”

Most everyone who spoke thanked DSHS for hearing their concerns, especially Scott Braddock, a Texas broadcast journalist who spoke out in favor of Planned Parenthood, which he said had saved his friend’s life.

“Can you hear me?” Braddock said into the auditorium’s microphone. “Because there are too many women not being heard here.”

Abortion Rights and Judicial Bias in Texas Planned Parenthood Decision

7:53 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Photo: Bad Lyric Police / Flickr

There may be no jurisdiction right now more hostile to women’s rights than the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The most recent evidence of a deep and structural bias against women in general and reproductive rights in particular is the decision to allow the state of Texas to move forward with de-funding Planned Parenthood.

The legal challenge to the regulation that bars state money from going to any clinic or any affiliate clinic that provides abortion services like other abortion-funding cases turned not on access to reproductive health care, but the First Amendment rights of the clinics. When the government conditions the receipt of funds on promoting a particular agenda, the government is in effect subsidizing that speech. These cases involve a murky area of the law known as the “unconstitutional conditions” doctrine.

The unconstitutional conditions doctrine says, essentially, that a funding condition, such as excluding abortion services, can’t be unconstitutional if there is some way the government can impose that condition directly. In the case of Texas and the WHP program, that would mean that the regulations cutting of funding to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates is constitutional if the state could achieve the same goal–ending abortion services–directly and not by conditioning receipt of state funds to get there.

Thanks to Roe v. Wade the state of Texas clearly cannot unilaterally shut down abortion services, either legislatively or through some other means. So, it should be pretty clear that any regulation that attempts to do the same, under the unconstitutional conditions doctrine, should fail as an unconstitutional condition on other rights–in this case the association rights of women’s health providers.

But in a decision where up is down and black is white, the Fifth Circuit held that while the Texas restriction “functions as a speech-based funding condition, it also functions as a direct regulation of the content of a state program” and because states are generally given wide latitude to construct the content of state programs, this particular regulation survives.

In short, Texas created the WHP and can regulate the “content” of the program, as it sees fit, even if regulating that “content” unconstitutionally restricts the rights of others.

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Open Letter to Representative Trent Franks: What Caring About Women and Babies Really Looks Like

7:31 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Dear Representative Trent Franks,

A mother nurses her infant

What does it mean to care for women? (Photo: See-Ming Lee / Flickr)

Today, I watched you debate during the markup for H.R. 3803, or, as you may know it, the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks in Washington, DC. I watched you valiantly fight to save “the children” from their pain even in the case of rape or incest, or when a mother has been diagnosed with cancer and the treatment needed to save her life is incompatible with the continuation of her pregnancy. I watched you warn the rest of the judiciary committee that abortions are linked to higher rates of suicide, even though this “fact,” and the basis for the bill itself (that 20-week-old fetuses can feel pain) flies in the face of all accredited scientific evidence.

And all I could think about was September 7, 2007.

It may seem strange to you. September 7, 2007 was nearly five years ago. Why think about that now? And why such a specific date?

September 7, 2007 was the night I was raped.

September 7, 2007 was the night that my rapist’s sperm met my egg and I was impregnated with the child of my rapist.

I thought about all of this as I watched you passionately advocate on behalf of “the tiny little babies” and the only reaction I could muster was “how dare you.”

How dare you, Representative Franks. Your claim of caring about the “pain of the tiny babies” rings hollow when one remembers your support of the Ryan Budget, which would have slashed over $36 billion from food assistance programs. You called them “slush funds” and “runaway federal spending.” This from a member of the House of Representatives, who makes more in a month than I do in a year.

How dare you, Representative Franks. Your claim of caring about the “increased risk of suicide” among those who seek abortions rings hollow when, again and again, you have voted to strip people like me of health care by voting for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the slashing of Medicare and Medicaid. These programs that I, personally, rely on so that I can afford counseling to help me deal with the trauma of being raped.  After all, “health care” involves your mental health as well.

How dare you, Representative Franks. Your faux concern for the physical and mental well-being of parents and their children is sickening when you have over and over again proven your concern for both is nonexistent.

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Sex-selective Abortion Bans: A Disingenuous New Strategy to Limit Women’s Access to Abortion

11:22 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Republished with permission from the Guttmacher Policy Review, Spring 2012, Volume 15, Number 2.  See all our coverage of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) here and all our coverage of sex selection here.

Photobucket

Among the widening panoply of strategies being deployed to restrict U.S. abortion rights—ostensibly in the interest of protecting women—is the relatively recent push to prohibit the performance of abortions for the purpose of sex selection. Sex-selective abortion is widespread in certain countries, especially those in East and South Asia, where an inordinately high social value is placed on having male over female children. There is some evidence—although limited and inconclusive—to suggest that the practice may also occur among Asian communities in the United States.

A broad spectrum of civil rights groups and reproductive rights and justice organizations stand united in opposition to these proposed abortion bans as both unenforceable and unwise. Advocates for the welfare of Asian American women are particularly adamant in protesting that such laws have the potential to do much harm and no good for their communities. Moreover, they argue that proposals to ban sex-selective abortion proffered by those who would ban all abortions are little more than a cynical political ploy and that the real problem that needs to be addressed is son preference—itself a deeply seated and complex manifestation of entrenched gender discrimination and inequity.

Understanding the Root Problem…
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