The biggest news this week was the Michigan vote to require abortion coverage to be purchased separately from other medical insurance, even in private insurance plans. Dubbed the “rape rider” by some abortion rights activists, because it denies insurance coverage of an abortion if the pregnancy is a result of sexual assault, the proposal passed both chambers of the state legislature this week, despite previously being vetoed by the Governor.
A local news report investigated the real impact of the new procedure and discovered that no plans currently offer separate riders for purchase, and that without insurance coverage, abortion could cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands depending on how advanced the pregnancy is. Also of note: patients on Medicaid now have more choices when it comes to terminating a pregnancy, because unlike those on private insurance, Medicaid patients can still have their abortions paid for if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.
Meanwhile, local reproductive rights and civil rights groups are seeking a ballot initiative to remove the new abortion coverage limits.
So why are pregnancies that are a result of sexual assault — an exception that has usually been accepted even by many abortion opponents — suddenly no longer acceptable? According to one politician, if you allow “rape and incest exceptions, you might as well allow exceptions just for Muslims.”
A number of abortion restrictions are back in the courts again, with North Dakota reviewing their medication abortion ban and Arizona getting ready to review their 20 week gestation abortion ban. Also in court news, a Florida judge is uncertain if the medication given to a woman by her ex-boyfriend, who was allegedly attempting to cause her to miscarry, was actually responsible for the loss of her embryo at 7 weeks. In Nebraska, a judge with an extensive anti-abortion past who refused to allow a teen to obtain an abortion without parental notification will not be investigated, because the state said he did not act on “bad faith.”
The American Prospect published a series of recommendations on how to take the offense on winning back reproductive rights in 2014. Many of these ideas are already being proposed in Pennsylvania as part of their “Women’s Health Agenda.” Also being proposed in Pennsylvania is a statewide 15 foot buffer zone around protesting at abortion clinics, although legislators believe that unfortunately that bill is going nowhere. More likely to become law? A “later term” ban on abortions in Valencia County, N.M., which will change nothing since there are no abortion clinics in that county.
A Pennsylvania nurse is being charged with unlawful abortion for helping a teen obtain drugs to end her pregnancy. An abortion provider in Indiana may no longer be able to practice now that the doctor who was acting as his state mandated backup has declared he will stop providing the service in 2014. New York Magazine explains the massive “commutes” that some abortion providers undergo just to provide services at remote clinics.
A Texas town hall on the new abortion regulations that are shutting down clinics left and right became another battle between activists who believe women should have access to safe abortion care and those who think taking away their options somehow adds to their “safety.” The state has announced that over 19,000 public comments opposing the regulations came in, but that they are ignoring those comments, anyway. What few clinics are left are reporting a “surge” in patients as they try to compensate for the lack of available providers.
Americans United for Life (AUL) has unleashed their 2014 plans, and their model legislation focus is on ensuring that pretty much any person can sue an abortion provider for any reason. AUL deems it part of their “Women’s Protection Project,” because the best way to protect women is to sue a person who performs a legal medical procedure simply because you don’t like the fact that she made a decision you don’t agree with.
Would you sit through a movie if it started with an ad for “personhood?” I think I’d ask for my money back, personally.
Finally, a must read on moving beyond the “pro-choice/pro-life” rhetoric when it comes to reproductive rights.
Photo credit: Thinkstock