This week’s big news has been the lawsuit between the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) over the pregnant woman denied an abortion of a nonviable 18 week pregnancy who was forced to wait out a miscarriage at a Michigan Catholic hospital. Abortion opponents have been scrambling to discredit the suit, which accuses the USCCB of refusing to let medical doctors practice best medicine due to the Catholic directives put on their hospitals. One pro-life doctor came out swinging, declaring abortion is “never medically necessary,” and reminding the public that an 18 week fetus can “make sucking motions.” True, but it is still weeks from being able to survive outside the womb, making it medically impossible for it to survive once the mother’s water breaks. Dr. Brian C. Calhoun is also the same doctor who was brought in to testify in favor of medically unnecessary clinic regulations meant to shutdown abortion providers, including in his home state of West Virginia, where he claims he sees patients from “botched abortions weekly.”
The battle over Catholic bishops refusing to allow doctors to practice full spectrum care in hospitals is one that is even dividing the church itself. “There are 68 million Catholics in the United States, and only 250 of them are bishops,” Megan Smith, domestic program associate at Catholics for Choice told†Salon. “The vast majority of Catholics disagree with the bishops on sex, sexuality and reproductive healthcare.”
But Amelia Thomson-Deveux wonders if the blame is being placed at the wrong feet. Although the USCCB writes the directives, it is the doctors who have to follow them, and it could be the doctors’ own conscience issues standing in the way of patient care. “As chilling as these cases are, it’s unclear whether the USCCB’s directivesórather than the decisions of individual Catholic hospitals, doctors, or bishopsóare to blame,” she writes, noting that although the ACLU seems interested in finding a way to go at the policies themselves, the true blame for this exact incident may have a more local source.
Last week we learned that the French have discovered Plan B may not work on those who weigh more than 165 lbs. Writer and activist Jazmine Walker offers a gripping explanation of why that matters for people of color especially, and how the medical industry fails them. Meanwhile, another report explains that the major reason the French news came to light is because they also want to have an accurate label stating the scientific fact that the drug does not actually prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.
The “rape insurance” bill is heading to the Michigan legislature for their approval, and one lawmaker is calling the proposal “one of the most misogynist” she’s ever seen.†Abortion rights activists hit the capitol to demand that legislators refuse to approve the bill and instead let the voters have their say via ballot initiative. The legislature†must decide before the end of next week, when the winter recess begins.
One city in Washington state is considering pulling funds to a local family and children’s resources center because it offers referrals to places where a person can get an abortion. A Colorado city is returning a family planning grant to its local Planned Parenthood as long as it absolutely, totally and 100 percent promises not to use that money for abortion. Also, Wisconsin is giving it a go at appealing the ban on their law requiring admitting privileges for abortion providers, which would shutter most of the state’s clinics. So far, the federal judges haven’t been impressed by the state’s claims that the bill is about women’s health and not backdoor banning abortion.
Kansas is at the center of the news this week, as former Attorney General Phill Kline is trying to get his law license back. He lost it after being accused of misconduct in his witchhunt of the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates and the late Dr. George Tiller. Also, high school students are coming to the Wichita clinic to protest and pray as part of an effort to get more high schools to actively protest clinics. In other clinic news, a New Jersey site is seeing protests escalate as anti-choice activists work to try to trick abortion patients, including trying to get them to eat chocolate before they enter the building so they can’t have the procedure, which needs to be done on an empty stomach.
Would you be willing to accept a straight 12 week abortion ban that allows exceptions only in cases of fetal anomalies and a pregnant person’s health if that meant easy access to abortion up to that point, affordable birth control and emergency contraception and actual assistance with child care and other programs to help children? Reproductive rights writer Jill Filopovic ponders the thought exercise here.
Does Roe v. Wade really even exist anymore? No, and Think Progress explains why. Shorter version: we pretty much already have abortion free states if you don’t have large amounts of funding at your disposal, and it’s often far easier to go to a different state than to try to have the procedure in your own.
Based on this week’s news, it’s easy to see how such a thing could happen.
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