This week, an Iowa judge has overruled a previous motion blocking the state’s new ban on telemed abortion, a procedure that allows patients to be examined by a medical professional then speak with a doctor over Skype as the doctor officially watches her take the first dose of the medication combination that provides an abortion. The Iowa medical board, of which all 10 members have been appointed by the state’s Republican, anti-abortion governor, advised that the program be suspended as dangerous to patients, despite no complaints ever being filed in all of the years that it was in place.
According to this new judge, although he may not have entirely agreed with the decision of the board, he did recognize that the board acted within its rights to regulate the process, including holding open meetings and taking public comment. “There is no question that the board has the power to establish standards of practice for the medical profession. Those standards include the authority to adopt and enforce standards regarding the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing practice,” he said in his ruling.
Reproductive rights activists think maybe there were bigger issues at play, such as a judge afraid of losing his seat if he sided with Planned Parenthood. “If the judge had ruled against the state regulators, he may have faced political consequences,” suggests RH RealityCheck’s Teddy Wilson. “This November, Judge Farrell will be on the ballot for a retention election, a process by a which a majority of voters can recall judges.” Wilson notes that the judge who blocked the ban previously was targeted by an anti-abortion group, who told its followers not to vote in favor of her retention.
Think that the accusations are overblown? Take a look at one judicial race in Florida, where one candidate pledged her allegiance to the local “personhood” group in order to help her win her election.
Remember last week’s big fight over Texas’s abortion law, and Dr. Vincent Rue, who helped craft the state’s legal arguments? Now you can learn even more about the so called “expert” thanks to reporter Mary Tuma. Texas isn’t the only state dealing with massive pressure from non-locals. A review of the over 8000 public comments submitted for last year’s abortion clinic regulations probe in West Virginia turns out to be almost entirely from people who live out of state — just over 600 actually came from residents.
The New York Times rails on abortion opponents for pretending their restrictions are about protecting women undergoing the procedure, while the San Diego Free Press discusses the “best language” to use to better support abortion rights. What we really need in order to drive the point home and change minds, however, are more pieces like this that explain how, when pieced together, a variety of restrictions on women and families are really pushing pregnant people towards abortion, not away from it.
After years on a variance and now a year in the courts, Dr. Martin Haskell has given up the legal fight to try to keep his Sharonville, Ohio, abortion clinic open. I interviewed Dr. Haskell about his practice and the “witch hunt” the Ohio Board of Health has been conducting to close as many local clinic as possible, and you can read that here. The news is better in Huntsville, Ala., where an attempt to convince the city council to rezone property where the city’s abortion clinic was planning to relocate to failed in a vote.
A suicidal pregnant woman in Ireland who couldn’t leave the country to get an abortion was strung along by medical staff for four months before they finally allowed her to have a C-section once they believed the baby was viable. And yes, that could happen here some day as well if abortion opponents have their way.
The Missouri lawmaker responsible for the state’s currently vetoed 72 hour wait prior to an abortion says he has the numbers to override the governor’s veto.
With all these bills passing, being vetoed, being court challenged and even going into effect in some cases, it may be a good idea for politicians hoping to stay in office to remember that 7 out of 10 Americans say they don’t believe the government should be passing abortion restrictions. But the GOP is ready to test those numbers with yet another push for a 20 week federal abortion ban, timed just in such a way as to (they assume) help them in close Senate races. First up? North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan, who will have to deal with Concerned Women for America and the telegenic (and allegedly homophobic) Benham Brothers at her office.
Photo credit: Thinkstock