MoJo Author Feeds: Molly Redden | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en One State Finally Cracked Down on Deceptive Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>California on Friday became the only state to target anti-abortion pregnancy centers with a law cracking down on deceptive practices some have used to prevent or dissuade women from having an abortion.</p> <p>The new law, which forces some crisis pregnancy centers to offer information about public assistance for reproductive services and others to notify patients that there are no medical professionals on staff, <a href="">passed the California state assembly</a> with a large majority in late May. Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the bill on Friday night.</p> <p>It is the first time reproductive rights groups have succeeded in pushing regulations on crisis pregnancy centers across an entire state; only a handful of cities or counties have passed similar laws. Shortly before the act became law, Amy Everitt, the director of NARAL Pro-Choice California, a reproductive rights group that helped draft the bill, said in an interview, "There is more to come."</p> <p>But the new law may represent the outer limit of what legislatures can do to regulate crisis pregnancy centers. The measure, called AB 775, almost certainly faces the same fraught legal battles that stalled similar regulations in cities including Baltimore, New York, and Austin. Those battles forced NARAL and its allies to be conservative in crafting the new regulations. For instance, the law cannot force unlicensed centers to inform women that the state health department encourages women to visit licensed medical providers for prenatal care. A new court fight could erode their options even further.</p> <p>Reproductive rights advocates and public health officials have long sought to raise alarms about crisis pregnancy centers. Run by anti-abortion groups, crisis pregnancy centers sometimes provide pregnant women with misleading medical information in order to discourage them from ending their pregnancies. Others are ambiguous about whether they perform abortions or not in order to get women through the door. According to an investigation by NARAL, <a href="">almost half</a> of California's crisis pregnancy centers promulgate the popular anti-abortion <a href="">myth</a> that terminating a pregnancy is linked to a patient&rsquo;s chances of developing breast cancer. At the same time, NARAL claims, a majority of the state's crisis pregnancy centers <a href="">present themselves as neutral</a> on the issue of abortion.</p> <p>Abortion foes deny that crisis pregnancy centers engage in such subterfuge. "A woman knows her options," says Sandra Palacios, a government relations executive with the California Catholic Conference, which opposed the law. "Women are smart. They know where they&rsquo;re walking into&mdash;a safe place where they can get all the information about abortion alternatives."</p> <p>But as AB 775 was debated in the general assembly, many California medical professionals complained that crisis pregnancy centers offered their patients health care of dubious quality. In a letter to the legislature, Therese McCluskey, the perinatal services coordinator for the Alameda County Public Health Department, said many patients who transfer&nbsp;from crisis pregnancy centers to the clinics she oversees come without prenatal records, lab reports, or the pregnancy verification form that entitles them to pregnancy-related health care. Patients typically transfer<strong> </strong>at the point when they are too far along in their pregnancy to obtain an abortion.</p> <p>At <a href=";clip_id=3012">a Senate hearing</a> on the bill, one OB-GYN testified that crisis pregnancy centers can pose a risk even for women who wanted to be pregnant and planned to carry their pregnancies full term. Sally Greenwald, of the University of California&mdash;San Francisco, is an OB-GYN and recalled taking over the care of a pregnant diabetic woman from a pro-life center. The crisis pregnancy center had failed to treat the woman's alarming blood sugar levels. "The fetus was exposed to lifelong risks, such as cardiac malformations, brain anomalies, and spine deformations," says Greenwald. "We could have lowered the sugar in her blood and we could have had better outcomes both for mom and for baby."</p> <p>There are nearly <a href="">170 crisis pregnancy centers<strong> </strong>in California</a>. At least 40 percent of them are licensed by the state as medical providers. Unlicensed clinics are prohibited from providing medical advice. For instance, an unlicensed clinic could conduct an ultrasound for a woman, but it could not use the results to determine gestational age.</p> <p>California&rsquo;s new law places two types of restrictions on crisis pregnancy centers. It requires pregnancy-related service providers that are not medically licensed to disclose that fact to patients. For reproductive health clinics, including crisis pregnancy centers, that are licensed, the law requires that they provide patients with information about California&rsquo;s financial assistance for family planning services, prenatal care, and abortion.</p> <p>"This bill is sort of a lessons-learned bill from all the previous efforts," says Everitt, of NARAL. As the group and its allies crafted the bill, she adds, they were "acutely aware" of how other bills to regulate crisis pregnancy centers&mdash;including some NARAL helped author&mdash;had failed in the past.</p> <p>At the center of those past failures is <a href="">a feud</a> over whether abortion is a political or a health issue. Abortion foes claim that regulating crisis pregnancy centers is a violation of their right to express opposition to abortion. Reproductive rights advocates counter that the regulations are permissible because states have some latitude to regulate speech that is deceptive or coming from professionals licensed by the state. What is at stake is more than semantics: Supreme Court decisions have <a href="">set a high bar</a> for regulating political speech, but a low bar when it comes to individuals who are speaking as licensed professionals.</p> <p>Regulating crisis pregnancy centers, even in blue states, has proved an elusive goal. Federal courts have struck down several laws forcing crisis pregnancy centers to make certain disclosures, such as informing women that they do not offer abortions, birth control, or referrals for those services.</p> <p>Local officials in Baltimore, New York City, Austin, Maryland's Montgomery County, and San Francisco have all attempted to regulate crisis pregnancy centers with mixed degrees of success. Federal courts are split over several laws forcing crisis pregnancy centers to disclose up front that they are not medically licensed or do not refer for abortion, and to specify which medical services they do or do not provide.</p> <p>Attempting to avoid a similar outcome in California, Everitt says, NARAL enlisted the office of Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris. Harris' office helped draft the bill from its inception with an eye toward eliminating openings for a First Amendment challenge&mdash;although a spokeswoman for Harris cautioned that the state's involvement was no guarantee of success. Harris vocally backed the new law.</p> <p>Their track record in federal court forced the drafters to leave what they saw as large holes in the new law. "We wish we could get crisis pregnancy centers to stop spreading scientifically unsound messages," Everitt says, but such a law would likely be struck down in court.</p> <p>Palacios said the California Catholic Conference intends to sue to block the law. A representative for a coalition of crisis pregnancy centers opposed to the bill did not respond to requests for an interview.</p> <p>Everitt is confident the law would survive a court challenge. Her group was instrumental in drafting <a href="">the San Francisco measure</a>, passed in 2011, which has so far survived a legal onslaught. The law allowed the city to fine crisis pregnancy centers each time they falsely implied that they offered abortion services or referrals.</p> <p>Just as she did in 2011, Everitt hopes the new law will become a national model, especially now that the umbrella organizations behind many crisis pregnancy centers push their affiliates to <a href="">seek</a> <a href="">more</a> <a href="">medical licensing</a>. Crisis pregnancy centers say it is a move to provide better care to women.</p> <p>NARAL sees crisis pregnancy centers' push for more licensing as a grab for legitimacy&mdash;and a tactical error. "The more there's a relationship with the state, the more you have leeway to regulate crisis pregnancy centers," says Rebecca Griffin, an assistant director for NARAL in California. "It's an opportunity for us."</p></body></html> Politics Reproductive Rights Top Stories Mon, 12 Oct 2015 10:00:13 +0000 Molly Redden 286636 at Women in Texas May Have to Wait an Extra 20 Days for an Abortion <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><a href="" target="_blank">New research</a> from the University of Texas&mdash;Austin has found that women seeking abortions in cities such as Dallas, Forth Worth, and Austin face staggering wait times of up to 20 days before they can get the procedure. The data, which researchers working for the Texas Policy Evaluation Project released Monday, provides a startling look at the effects of abortion clinic closures in Texas just as the Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to hear a case that could slash the number of remaining clinics by half.</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-10-05%20at%203.23.29%20PM_0.png"><div class="caption"><strong>Wait times at abortion clinics in Austin, Texas. </strong></div> </div> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%">&nbsp;</div> <p>Researchers documented wait times for clinics in Forth Worth, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston from November 2014 to September 2015. In Austin, the average wait over the course of those 11 months was 10 days. In Dallas and Fort Worth, the annual average was 5 days. They also calculated the average monthly wait times and the range of wait times in a given month and found that average wait times within a single month reached up to 20 days in the Dallas-Fort Worth area&mdash;where there are <a href="" target="_blank">five abortion clinics</a>&mdash;and wait times for individual patients could reach up to 23 days.</p> <p>The escalating wait times are a result of successful efforts to close more than half of Texas's abortion clinics. Most of those clinics were closed by HB 2, a 2013 anti-abortion law that many consider to be the harshest in the nation. Its provisions included a requirement that clinics must have admitting privileges with a hospital no more than 30 miles away. Before the measure, Texas had 41 clinics; four months after it took effect, <a href="" target="_blank">there were only 22.</a> Today, <a href=";_ylt=A0LEVvJ3mhJWYFAABzInnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw--" target="_blank">there are 19</a>.</p> <p>A final provision of the law, which may be the subject of a Supreme Court battle later this year, would close <a href="" target="_blank">all but 10 clinics</a> if it goes into effect. That measure requires abortion clinics to be regulated similarly to hospitals, which makes it dramatically more expensive to operate an abortion clinic. Leading medical organizations, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, maintain this level of medical infrastructure <a href="" target="_blank">is not necessary</a> to safely perform most abortions. Whole Woman's Health, a chain of abortion clinics with several providers in Texas, sued in federal court and succeeded in having the Supreme Court temporarily <a href="" target="_blank">block the law</a>. The court could make a decision to hear the full case as soon as this month.</p> <p>A wait time of almost three weeks has serious consequences for women seeking abortions, ranging from her ability to afford an abortion, which becomes more expensive as the pregnancy progresses,<strong> </strong>to intensity of the procedure. In the second trimester, <a href="" target="_blank">the cost of an abortion</a> may go up by a hundred dollars every week. The researchers found that if the Supreme Court were to allow all but 10 clinics to close, it would almost double the number of second-trimester procedures in Texas&mdash;from 6,600 in 2013 to 12,400.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-09-09%20at%209.29.08%20AM_0.png"></div> <p>The researchers also predicted that if the Supreme Court upheld HB 2, the 10 clinics that would remain open would not have the capacity to meet demand. Those clinics today provide only one-fifth of abortions in Texas. If they were the only clinics in Texas, they would probably experience consistent wait times of around three weeks. For instance, the Houston area saw an average wait time of less than five days. But Houston has six clinics. If the law were fully in place, it would only have two clinics. And as clinics closed around the state, the number of abortions taking place in Houston would rise from 3,900 in 2013 to more than 11,000.</p> <p>Clinics in states bordering Texas are already feeling the crush. Kathaleen Pittman, an official with Hope Medical Group of Shreveport, Louisiana, said in an interview that the proportion of Texans going to Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Louisiana, has leapt from 15 percent of patients in 2011 to 23 percent in 2014.</p> <p>And the South isn't the only region where clinic closures have sent a wave of patients looking for new providers. The problem is also pronounced in Ohio, where eight clinics have <a href="" target="_blank">closed since 2011</a>. Officials for Preterm, a clinic in Cleveland, say the number of patients traveling from a different part of Ohio has jumped 160 percent, and the number of patients from out of state has almost doubled.</p> <p>As <em>Mother Jones</em> reported in <a href="" target="_blank">a recent feature</a>, a clinic called the Cherry Hill Women's Center in southern New Jersey is seeing more and more patients from Virginia, because clinics in Maryland and Delaware are overbooked, and from the Midwest, because many clinics there have closed. An analysis by <em>Mother Jones</em> found that clinics are closing at a rate of 1.5 per week. If the trend keeps up, the new data from Texas may turn out to be a bellwether for the rest of the nation.</p></body></html> MoJo Reproductive Rights Top Stories Mon, 05 Oct 2015 19:31:39 +0000 Molly Redden 286156 at 15 Years On, Conservatives Are Still Trying to Kill the Abortion Pill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When the Food and Drug Administration approved the first abortion pill in the United States 15 years ago this September, the politics of the decision <a href="" target="_blank">were so fraught</a> that the agency wouldn't even name the officials behind its decision. The pharmaceutical company making the drug&mdash;a pill called mifepristone&mdash;took pains to hide its address.</p> <p>September 28 marks 15 years since the FDA approved mifepristone. And today, those fears seem misplaced. Since 2000, more than 2 million women have used the drug to have an abortion in the <a href="" target="_blank">first nine weeks of pregnancy</a>. Twenty-three percent of women who have an abortion today get a so-called medical abortion&mdash;most of them, using mifepristone. The drug has <a href="" target="_blank">radically reshaped</a> abortion availability for rural women, and Danco, the drugmaker, is out in the open.</p> <p>Violent anti-abortion opponents, in other words, are no longer standing between women and mifepristone. Instead, as with so many facets of abortion in modern America, abortion foes are going after the abortion pill with restrictive new laws. It is easy to see why. When polled, <a href="" target="_blank">patients say</a> they appreciate the privacy afforded by the pill. (Mifepristone is part of a two-drug regimen, and the second course can be taken at home.) It is also less expensive than a surgical abortion. Linda Greenhouse, a legal contributor to the <em>New York Times, </em><a href="" target="_blank">called it</a> "the ultimate in women's reproductive empowerment and personal privacy." But the 2 million figure belies a sustained, and in many cases, successful campaign by conservative lawmakers and activists to put mifepristone out of reach. A decade and a half after mifepristone came on the market, abortion foes are blocking its progress with a vengeance.</p> <p>The attacks on mifepristone come in two varieties: those that ban telemedicine, and those that force women taking the abortion pill to spend more travel time and money.</p> <p>Telemedicine is what has allowed mifepristone to be part of a sweeping change in abortion access for thousands of rural women. Ground zero is in Iowa, at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland: Several times a week, Jill Meadows, a Planned Parenthood physician, appears via video conference to patients in seven other Planned Parenthood clinics across the state. A nurse seats a woman in a room with a computer monitor. Meadows and the patient talk via video feed. The patient takes the mifepristone with Meadows watching. Then, with a remote control, Meadows opens a drawer next to the woman containing pills that will cause the uterus to expel the pregnancy. The woman takes those pills at home; essentially, she has the abortion at home.</p> <p>"It's not much different at all whether I'm in the clinic," Meadows <a href="" target="_blank">recently told <em>Mother Jones</em></a>. "It's the same exact process," albeit one that saves many women hours of driving.</p> <p>But since 2011, <a href="" target="_blank">18 states</a> have banned telemedicine abortions&mdash;nine of them <a href="" target="_blank">before local abortion providers</a> had even gotten a telemedicine program like Iowa's up and running. In Iowa, the program was nearly eliminated: In 2013, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad appointed a Catholic priest <a href="" target="_blank">who had lobbied against it</a> to the nine-person state board of medicine, which promptly shut down the program&mdash;though it was saved in the end by the Iowa Supreme Court.</p> <p>The other, more clever but more type of restriction requires doctors to follow the original, FDA-approved guidelines when prescribing mifepristone. The laws sound reasonable. But abortion rights proponents and mainstream medical groups argue that these rules prevent doctors from practicing medicine the way they always have: by using <a href="" target="_blank">superior prescribing methods</a> developed by physicians over time after a drug goes on the market. After two decades of prescribing mifepristone in the United States and Europe, major medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have determined that mifepristone is more effective and entails fewer side effects with a slightly different dosage. The newer doses is called the "evidence-based" or "off-label" method of prescribing. In the United States, <a href="" target="_blank">up to half</a> of all prescriptions are written off-label&mdash;that is, not following original FDA guidelines.</p> <p>The newer regimen is far more reliable with fewer unpleasant side effects. A 2013 study of nearly a quarter-million such abortions found that less than 1 percent of women experienced adverse events. And for the vast majority of those women, the adverse event was that they were still pregnant.</p> <p>The FDA regimen has a much higher failure rate that multiplies as the weeks go by. While no study has ever made a direct comparison, a 1998 study of 2,100 women published in the <em>New England Journal of Medicine</em> found that by the ninth week of pregnancy, the FDA regimen failed for one in four women: Either the abortion wasn't complete, or they were still pregnant. And while the older regimen is not unsafe, fully 99 percent of the women in the study experienced a notable side effect. These included nausea, cramps, faintness, vomiting, back pain, and fever.</p> <p>This is the irksome drug regimen that Arkansas, Ohio, and North Dakota doctors have to prescribe, by law, if they want to prescribe abortion medications at all. (Arizona and Oklahoma have passed similar laws that are on hold due to lawsuits.) Reproductive rights groups have argued that these laws <a href="http://" target="_blank">are virtual bans</a> on abortion pills: A majority of clinics in Oklahoma, for example, <a href="http://" target="_blank">proclaimed</a> that the FDA regimen is so far beneath the standard of care that they would not prescribe it.</p> <p>Dr. David Burkons, a physician in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, who <em>does</em> offer medication abortions under the old FDA rules, nonetheless thinks the old way is a mess. In an interview for <a href="" target="_blank">a recent <em>Mother Jones</em> feature</a>, he explained why: Because the outdated method requires women to take more of the mifepristone than they need, the procedure costs an extra $160. Women have to make an extra trip for the second dose of drugs&mdash;the misoprostol that expels the pregnancy. In the past, women took this dose at home for a very good reason: Misoprostol causes women to bleed almost immediately. Now, the unlucky ones start gushing on the drive home. FDA guidelines call for women to take the misoprostol by swallowing it. But it is more effective to take it vaginally or by absorbing it under the tongue. When they swallow it, some of Burkons' patients puke it up. Others don't absorb it well and don't expel all of the pregnancy.</p> <p>And although this is the method that abortion foes say they support, they are also <a href="" target="_blank">eager to exploit</a> the problems that come with this method of perception:</p> <blockquote> <p>Since Burkons started prescribing abortion pills under the rules promoted by abortion opponents, he has reported <a href="" target="_blank">17 </a>instances of patient complications to the state health department. Almost all of those women had experienced incomplete abortions&mdash;an inevitable outcome when using the outdated dosage. Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group, got hold of those reports and splashed them across its website. "His dangerous abortion operation should be closed permanently," said Troy Newman, the group's president, "in order to protect women."</p> </blockquote> <p>Abortion foes insist they support such restrictions for reasons of women's safety. Americans United for Life, the legal arm of the anti-abortion movement, portrays the practice of prescribing the abortion pill via telemedicine&mdash;as opposed to in person&mdash;as dangerous.</p> <p>Reproductive rights groups counter that <a href="" target="_blank">years of data</a> show abortion pills to be exceedingly safe: Of the 1.5 million women who took mifepristone between 2000 and 2011, 612 had complications serious enough to require hospitalization. In 2013, the FDA investigated the deaths of eight women from severe infection after taking mifepristone and found that their infections were <a href="" target="_blank">unrelated</a> to the drug. (The AUL <a href="" target="_blank">continues to link their deaths to mifepristone</a> today.)</p> <p>Regardless, abortion foes have been so successful in limiting the abortion pill that a decade and a half after the drug was approved, women having abortions in the United States are much less likely to use mifepristone than many of their foreign counterparts. Only a quarter of abortions in the United States use any kind of abortion drug. In France, Scotland, and Sweden, by contrast, <a href="" target="_blank">more than half</a> of early abortions are performed using mifepristone.</p> <p>The burden is compounded in states that also force women to wait a certain amount of time between their initial visit to an abortion provider and the day of the procedure. In those states, such as Texas, it takes a woman four in-person trips to the doctor for a medical abortion: one for the initial visit, one for each dose, and a fourth trip for a follow-up visit. (In less restrictive states, it only takes two trips&mdash;once for the first dose and again for the follow-up.) Some laws require the doctor administering the abortion drug to be present in the clinic for all four visits. Because many abortion providers travel between locations, some abortion clinics simply can't offer mifepristone.</p> <p>The extra trips makes the abortion pill a burdensome option even for women who live near an abortion clinic. In March, a young woman living 30 miles outside Austin asked Fund Texas Choice, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance for women who have to travel great distances for abortions, for help paying for gas. An official for the nonprofit shared her itinerary with <em>Mother Jones</em>. It shows the woman driving 60 miles round trip every day at noon, four times in one week. Her trips covered the same distance from Austin to the Mexican border.</p> <p>Renee Chelian owns several abortion clinics in Michigan, where telemedicine abortions are banned. Speaking to <em>Mother Jones</em> just a few months before the 15-year anniversary, she summed up the landscape like this: "The simplest method of abortion is now too burdensome."</p></body></html> Politics Reproductive Rights The Right Top Stories Fri, 25 Sep 2015 10:00:11 +0000 Molly Redden 284781 at Fired Scott Walker Aide Is Tweeting Up a Shitstorm About What He Did Wrong <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will announce at 6 p.m. Monday that he is dropping out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The move is surprising&mdash;Walker was, until recently, a favorite among major Republican donors&mdash;but not unforeseeable. In the past two months, Walker's support in the Iowa caucuses, the first voting contest of the race, has <a href="" target="_blank">plummeted</a>, from first in the polls to seventh. His campaign has already racked up <a href="" target="_blank">six figures in debt</a> to campaign vendors. And he clocked <a href="" target="_blank">the least amount of time</a> out of the 11 Republicans who shared the stage in the latest GOP presidential debate.</p> <p>Immediately after the announcement, Liz Mair, a digital strategist for Walker's bid who was <a href="" target="_blank">fired</a> for tweeting negatively about Iowa, began spouting her thoughts about why Walker's campaign failed to attract enough money and momentum to keep it afloat. For example,&nbsp;"Hiring people who spent a lot to build out a massive operation that would not be sustainable unless financing remained amazing forever." Here's a selection:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">1. Scott Walker could, I think, have been a competent President. However, like almost all Rs, for awhile now, he hasn't been my 1st choice.</p> &mdash; Liz Mair (@LizMair) <a href="">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">2. Walker did a number of things wrong in this race. This is the beginning of what will be a lengthy list.</p> &mdash; Liz Mair (@LizMair) <a href="">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Things he got wrong: Misunderstanding the GOP base, its priorities and stances. Pandering. Flip-flopping.</p> &mdash; Liz Mair (@LizMair) <a href="">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Hiring staff who did not know him well and did not understand his record or his reputation across all segments in Wisconsin.</p> &mdash; Liz Mair (@LizMair) <a href="">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Allowing certain staff (ahem) to marginalize and cut off people in Walker's orbit who had got him to the governorship and kept him there.</p> &mdash; Liz Mair (@LizMair) <a href="">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Becoming so invested in winning, no matter what it took, that he lost sight of his real identity as a political leader.</p> &mdash; Liz Mair (@LizMair) <a href="">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Hiring people who spent a lot to build out a massive operation that would not be sustainable unless financing remained amazing forever.</p> &mdash; Liz Mair (@LizMair) <a href="">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Treating Iowa as locked down, boasting early of the ability to win even in states like Nevada where winning always looked improbable.</p> &mdash; Liz Mair (@LizMair) <a href="">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Not training himself out of tics incl instinctively answering "yes" and "absolutely" to things, comparing lots of things to union fight.</p> &mdash; Liz Mair (@LizMair) <a href="">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Not educating himself fast enough on issues outside governor's remit. Educating himself on some things by talking to the wrong people.</p> &mdash; Liz Mair (@LizMair) <a href="">September 21, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Read the rest <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Scott Walker Mon, 21 Sep 2015 21:20:28 +0000 Molly Redden 284711 at House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The House on Friday voted 241-to-187 to strip Planned Parenthood of some $500 million in federal family planning funds for a year. The move is <a href="" target="_blank">intended</a> to keep the public eye on allegations of illegal behavior by Planned Parenthood staffers but remove the possibility of a government shutdown by conservatives bent on defunding the organization.</p> <p>The vote followed several grueling <a href="" target="_blank">hearings</a> held by the House Judiciary Committee into the undercover sting videos that allegedly show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal parts, which would be a violation of federal law. The organization has denied the allegations, and <a href="" target="_blank">state after state</a> investigating the videos, which are heavily edited, has been <a href="" target="_blank">found no evidence of wrongdoing</a>. As the October 1 deadline for funding the government approaches, however, several conservative members of Congress, including presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), threatened to block any government funding bill that provided Medicaid or family planning dollars to Planned Parenthood. But <a href="" target="_blank">it remains to be seen</a> if this latest vote will satisfy conservative elements of the party.</p> <p>Planned Parenthood is barred by law from using federal funds to provide abortions. The $500 million or so it receives each year from the government allows the group to provide family planning and other reproductive health services to mostly poor women on Medicaid. Ahead of the vote, conservative activists and lawmakers circulated a list of thousands of other family planning providers that could replace Planned Parenthood for the thousands of poor women who use its services. There is <a href="" target="_blank">ample</a> <a href="" target="_blank">evidence</a> to suggest that these alternatives to Planned Parenthood do not have the capacity to treat the group's patients.</p> <p>The bill now goes to the GOP-held Senate, where it almost certainly faces a filibuster by Democrats in the minority.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Reproductive Rights Top Stories Fri, 18 Sep 2015 18:46:48 +0000 Molly Redden 284561 at Rand Paul Aide Claims Marco Rubio Staffer Punched Him in the Face <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update 11:40 am EST</strong>: Below is a purported video of the incident:</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-video" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">And here's alleged video of the punch, via <a href="">@ZekeJMiller</a>: <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Elena Schneider (@ec_schneider) <a href="">September 18, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A top political aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is accusing a campaign official working for rival presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) of <a href="" target="_blank">punching him in the face</a> during an altercation at a Michigan bar Thursday night.</p> <p>John Yob, the national political director for Paul's campaign, says Richard Beeson, the deputy campaign manager for Rubio, "literally physically assaulted me" while the two were at Horn's Bar on Mackinac Island.</p> <p>Here's how Yob described the encounter in a Facebook post:</p> <blockquote> <p>Last night I went to a bar on Mackinac Island for the GOP Mackinac Conference. I ran into a guy named Rich Beeson, who frankly I didn't even know who it was at first because he isn't relevant in our political world&hellip;He literally physically assaulted me by punching me in the face. The state police are looking for him. I have it on video, from multiple angles. This will play out in the national media in the next few hours.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="" target="_blank">On Twitter</a>, Yob called for Rubio to fire Beeson.</p> <p class="rtecenter">&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Rich Beeson, the CM for Rubio, punched me in the face tonight on Mackinac Island. The Michigan State Police are looking for him. <a href="">#MIGOP</a></p> &mdash; John Yob (@strategic) <a href="">September 18, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Brandon Hall, a Michigan politics blogger, <a href="" target="_blank">writes</a> that he saw the altercation take place:</p> <blockquote> <p>As I was sitting at the bar talking to someone at Horn's in Mackinac Island Thursday night, I witnessed Beeson suddenly, out of nowhere, approach one of Rand Paul's advisers, John Yob-unprovoked-and try to hit him. Beeson missed a full on shot but still struck Yob&rsquo;s in the face with a powerful blow near the jaw.</p> </blockquote> <p>Hall says that Beeson was trying to gin up votes for Rubio at the upcoming Makcinac Island straw poll. Hall also claims to have video of the scuffle.</p> <p>A spokesman for the Paul campaign declined to comment. Rubio's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Rand Paul Top Stories Fri, 18 Sep 2015 15:08:31 +0000 Molly Redden 284511 at Before He Became the Moderate Candidate, John Kasich Waged War on Ohio's Abortion Clinics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It took one round of questions in CNN's Wednesday night presidential debate for the Republican candidates to <a href="" target="_blank">pounce on Planned Parenthood</a>. But as Sen. Ted Cruz <a href="" target="_blank">called for shutting down the government</a> in order to strip Planned Parenthood's funding and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina <a href="" target="_blank">linked the group to Iran</a>, one candidate <a href="" target="_blank">strived for moderation</a>: John Kasich.</p> <p>The two-term Ohio governor urged Cruz not to stage a shutdown and indicated that he was hesitant to engage in a pitched battle with the federal government to strip Planned Parenthood in his state of Medicaid dollars.</p> <p>His remarks were representative of why the tone of his campaign has <a href="" target="_blank">triggered serious doubts</a> about him among abortion foes. Kasich has <a href="" target="_blank">dragged his feet</a> on supporting controversial abortion bills and hesitated to <a href="" target="_blank">commit</a> to defunding Planned Parenthood. On Wednesday, incensed abortion opponents began belittling Kasich's pro-life bona fides. "The governor consistently refers to the pro-life laws he has signed as evidence of his pro-life credentials," Molly Smith, president of Cleveland Right to Life, said on the eve of the second Republican debate. "Most of the credit for these laws go to the pro-life legislators who fought for them."</p> <p>But an in-depth look at Kasich's two terms as governor brings a very different picture into focus. In his six years in office, Kasich has signed <a href="" target="_blank">every piece of anti-abortion legislation to cross his desk</a>. And far from just rubber-stamping new abortion rules, Kasich has been more aggressive than any other governor in the Republican race in wielding the power of his office to run abortion providers out of business.</p> <p>"Kasich is the most successful pro-life governor we've ever had in the state of Ohio," says Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. The key, Gonidakis says, is the way Kasich has deployed the power of the state health department over Ohio's abortion clinics.</p> <p>Reproductive rights activists in the state agree. "There's creating a law, and there's how you implement it," says Kellie Copeland, the director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, an advocacy group. "And from day one, Kasich's administration was looking aggressively at how they could use their authority to enforce regulations in a way that would shut abortion clinics down."</p> <p>This approach has been stunningly successful. In the last five years, Ohio <a href="" target="_blank">has closed more abortion clinics</a> than any other state but Texas. Since Kasich took office in 2011, eight licensed abortion clinics have closed, stopped performing abortions, or moved their services out of the state, according to a count kept by the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. In 2011, <a href="" target="_blank">Ohio had 16 clinics</a>. Currently, Ohio has nine. In two of its largest cities&mdash;Cincinnati and Dayton&mdash;the area's sole clinics are constantly threatened with closure.</p> <p>To one abortion clinic, the Cleveland Surgi-Center, the Kasich administration appeared so hostile that the clinic didn't bother to apply for a new license. Surgi-Center's landlord decided not to renew the clinic's lease, and the<strong> </strong>clinic's license would not transfer to a new location. The clinic closed in June 2014, leaving the city and its suburbs&mdash;a population of 2 million&mdash;with two clinics.</p> <p>Critics of Kasich's administration say his political appointees have done everything in their power to shut down abortion clinics. Abortion rights proponents aren't the only ones lobbing the criticism.<strong> </strong>One retired inspector <a href="" target="_blank">accused his supervisors</a> of "looking for anything" that would allow the department to close abortion clinics.</p> <p>The inspector, Roy Croy, oversaw the licensing process for the Cincinnati-area Women's Med Center. Emails <a href="" target="_blank">reviewed</a> by the <em>Cincinnati Enquirer</em> showed that after Kasich came into office, oversight of the clinic's license was taken over by his top political appointees at the health department. Those officials directed Croy to ignore routine practices for renewing licenses. Croy's staff, though, followed standard procedure and automatically <a href="" target="_blank">renewed Med Center's license</a> in 2012<strong> </strong>after the clinic passed its annual health inspection. It was a move that ultimately <a href="" target="_blank">cost Croy his job</a>; he was forced to retire and <span class="message_content">the department announced he was barred from further government work.</span></p> <p>Women's Med Center stayed open until August 2014, when the health department took another avenue to revoke its license. This time, the issue was<strong> </strong>a law that <a href="" target="_blank">requires abortion clinics</a> to maintain a written transfer agreement with a local hospital. Abortion foes argued that public facilities shouldn't be used to support abortion providers. So in 2013, Kasich signed a budget with a provision that <a href="" target="_blank">barred public hospitals</a> from entering into these agreements with abortion clinics and instead forced abortion providers to make pacts with private hospitals.</p> <p>It is this law more than any that has put Ohio's abortion clinics in jeopardy. Private hospitals, for reasons of <a href="" target="_blank">politics</a> or religious affiliation, frequently refuse to make pacts with abortion providers. Abortion providers who can't find a private hospital as a partner must apply for an exception to the law, called a variance. The final decision rests with the director of Ohio's department of health.</p> <p>Abortion providers see the process as stacked against them: A clinic must meet strict benchmarks to win a variance, including showing the department that local doctors are available in case of emergency. But under the rules created for the 2013 budget, the health director can deny the variance <a href="" target="_blank">for any reason</a>.</p> <p>In January 2014, <a href="" target="_blank">claiming</a> that Women's Med Center had been uncommunicative in its dealings with the department, the director of the health department, Ted Wymyslo, denied the clinic's variance application. He <a href="" target="_blank">did not cite</a> any safety or health issues at the clinic itself.</p> <p>Mainstream medical groups <a href="" target="_blank">consider transfer agreements</a> for abortion clinics to be <a href="" target="_blank">a formality at best</a> and onerous at worst. Federal law already requires hospitals to see patients with emergency needs. More to the point, abortion is exceedingly safe: Colonoscopy exams have <a href="" target="_blank">a mortality rate about 40 times</a> that of abortions.</p> <p>Jerry Lawson, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, says the group's clinic in Cincinnati has transferred only four of 14,000 patients to the hospital in the past five years&mdash;in one case, for an emergency unrelated to abortion.</p> <p>Still, Planned Parenthood's Cincinnati clinic, the only abortion clinic in a metropolitan area of 2.1 million people, found itself <a href="" target="_blank">on the path to being shut down</a> by Kasich's health department late last year. The ban on public hospitals caused Planned Parenthood to lose its transfer agreement with the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Unable to find a private hospital willing to replace it, Planned Parenthood applied for the variance in the fall of 2013.</p> <p>Then came silence. The application sat with the health department for 14 months, a delay that ensnared Planned Parenthood in a catch-22: As the group waited for the decision, health department officials making their annual inspection of Planned Parenthood faulted the clinic for its inability to produce either a transfer agreement or a variance. The department made preparations to revoke Planned Parenthood's license. In the end, the clinic survived by filing a federal lawsuit to force the department to respond to its original application. The health department <a href="" target="_blank">granted the exception</a> in November.</p> <p>Susan Postal knew she faced a similar fight over Center for Choice, an abortion clinic she owned in Toledo, after the new rules caused the clinic to lose its transfer agreement with the University of Toledo Medical Center in 2013. She spoke to lawyers and calculated that the legal fees from a battle with the health department might personally bankrupt her&mdash;and she still might lose. "I wasn't going to toss money out the door to find out," Postal says. Rather than fight for the variance, she decided to close her clinic. Postal says she made up her mind after a health department inspector showed up at Center for Choice to investigate an anonymous complaint. The complaint was about cleanliness, but the inspector asked to see her narcotics cabinet. "I thought, okay, now we're on a witch hunt," she recalls. "And they're gonna look for whatever they can to shut me down."</p> <p>Neither the Ohio Department of Health nor Kasich's campaign replied to questions for this article. Abortion foes maintain that the need for transfer agreements is one of safety. "The state is closing bad clinics, ones that are not operated according to the letter of the law," says Gonidakis, the Right to Life president. "At the end of the day, those clinics that closed on Gov. Kasich's watch, a lot of them are due to self-inflicted wounds."</p> <p>But only one abortion clinic out of the eight that closed after Kasich took office, Capital Care Network in Akron, shut down because <a href="" target="_blank">a health inspection</a> of the facility turned up issues that threatened patient safety. Lawson, the Planned Parenthood CEO, says that if safety were really an issue, Ohio wouldn't have blocked its public hospitals from making transfer agreements with abortion clinics. "That fact alone tells the lie," he says. "If anything, you would encourage them to be involved."</p> <p>Planned Parenthood and other clinics operating in Ohio are still at risk, because clinics with a variance must ask the head of the health department to renew it on an annual basis. The current head is Rick Hodges, a longtime abortion foe. (Wymyslo retired in 2014.) As a state legislator in the 1990s, Hodges <a href="" target="_blank">was a member</a> of the "caveman caucus," so called because of their ultraconservative positions on issues like abortion. Before Kasich appointed him to lead the health department, Hodges directed the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission. His scant health care experience <a href="" target="_blank">raised questions</a>, which were ultimately dismissed, about whether he was legally eligible to run Ohio's health department. "We still call him Highway Hodges," says Kellie Copeland, the director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.</p> <p>Planned Parenthood sent Hodges' office a new application in May. The Women's Med Center in Dayton sent one in June. Neither has received a final ruling from the director.</p> <p>Meanwhile, this summer, Kasich upped the ante. He signed a new law that gives the director of the health department 60 days to rule on the applications. If 60 days pass without any action, an abortion clinic's application is automatically denied, with no avenue for appeal. The law goes into effect at the end of September. At that point, Lawson says, the clock will start on Planned Parenthood's request to the health department, and by extension, its license. The group is suing to strike down the law.</p> <p>If all this sounds bureaucratic, says Postal, who owned Center for Choice, it's supposed to be that way. "Kasich is discreet," she says. "You'll never hear him rant or rave about abortion and what he's doing to put a stop to it in Ohio." With Kasich, she says, "actions speak louder than words."</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Reproductive Rights Top Stories John Kasich Thu, 17 Sep 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Molly Redden 284056 at Here's What the GOP Candidates Had to Say About Reproductive Rights at the Debate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The moderators of CNN's Wednesday night debate didn't finish their first round of questions for the Republican presidential contenders before talk turned to Planned Parenthood. <a href="" target="_blank">State after state</a> investigating the explosive but doctored sting videos accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal organs has found the allegations&mdash;such sales would be illegal&mdash;<a href="" target="_blank">to be false</a>. But that hasn't stopped the 11 top-ranked GOP candidates from skewering the organization and promising to strip its federal funding. Here's what they said:</p> <p><strong>Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas</strong> &mdash; CNN corespondent Dana Bash asked Cruz if his determination to shut down the government in order to defund Planned Parenthood was deadly to the Republican ticket for president. "These Planned Parenthood videos are horrifying," Cruz said. "Planned Parenthood also essentially confesses to multiple felonies&hellip;Absolutely we shouldn't be sending $500 million of taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise, and I'll tell you, the fact that Republican leadership in both houses has begun this discussion by preemptively surrendering to Barack Obama and saying, 'We'll give in because Obama threatens a veto.' We need to stop surrendering and start standing for our principles."</p> <p><strong>Gov. John Kasich of Ohio</strong> &mdash; Bash asked the governor if he supported Cruz's strategy to defund Planned Parenthood. "I agree that we should defund Planned Parenthood," he said. "And in my state, we're trying to figure out how to get it done." At the same time, he said, he opposed shutting down the government. "The president of the United States is not going to sign this, and all we're going to do is shut the government down, and then we're going to open it up, and the American people are going to&nbsp;shake their heads and say, 'What's the story with these Republicans?'"</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-09-16%20at%2010.11.56%20PM.png"></a> <div class="caption"><strong>Read more about how Scott Walker and Chris Christie became part of <a href="" target="_blank">the 30-year fight to defund Planned Parenthood</a>.</strong></div> </div> <p><strong>Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey</strong> &mdash; "I've vetoed Planned Parenthood funding, now, eight times in New Jersey," Christie said. "Since the day I walked in as governor, Planned Parenthood has not been funded in New Jersey."</p> <p><strong>Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly </strong><strong>Fiorina </strong>&mdash; The former tech CEO made the night's oddest remark about Planned Parenthood: "I would like to link these two issues, both of which are incredibly important: Iran and Planned Parenthood." Without strictly linking them, she continued, "As regards to Planned Parenthood, I dare Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain'"&mdash;a moment that <a href="" target="_blank">does not actually appear</a> in the videos.</p> <p><strong>Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin </strong>&mdash; As CNN's Jake Tapper tried to redirect the conversation away from abortion, Walker interrupted him. "I, like so many other governors here, defunded Planned Parenthood, four and a half years ago, in a blue state," Walker said. "But I think the bigger issue here is we should be able to do this nationally, and this is precisely why so many Republicans are upset with Washington."</p> <p><strong>Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida</strong> &mdash; Bash asked Bush to discuss his remark that he was "not sure we need a half billion for women's health issues"&mdash;which Bush called a misstatement. "I'm the most pro-life governor on this stage," Bush said. "Life is a gift from God. And from beginning to end we need to respect it and err on the side of life. And so I defunded Planned Parenthood. We were the only state to fund crisis pregnancy centers with state monies. We were totally focused on this. And I would bring that kind of philosophy to Washington, DC."</p> <p>"There are 13,000 community-based organizations that provide health services to women, 13,000 in this country," Bush said, repeating <a href="" target="_blank">a popular conservative myth</a> that other groups could step up to replace Planned Parenthood. "I don't believe that Planned Parenthood should get a penny from the federal government."</p></body></html> Politics 2016 Elections Reproductive Rights Thu, 17 Sep 2015 02:48:18 +0000 Molly Redden 284366 at Gov. Bobby Jindal: "Planned Parenthood Is Selling Baby Parts Across the Country" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal claimed that "Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts across the country." Twice.</p> <p>The statement is untrue, as <a href="" target="_blank">state after state</a> investigating the explosive but doctored sting videos accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal organs has been <a href="" target="_blank">forced to concede</a>. (Such sales would violate federal law.)</p> <p>But Jindal, who appeared in the earlier GOP debate for second-tier candidates, has staked a lot on his campaign to bring Planned Parenthood's affiliate in Louisiana to its knees. Under his direction, Louisiana is investigating whether Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast trafficked in fetal parts&mdash;even though the group's two Louisiana clinics <a href="http://" target="_blank">do not even perform abortions</a>.</p> <p>In federal court, Jindal's administration is <a href="" target="_blank">battling for permission</a> to terminate $730,000 in Medicaid payments to the group, which Planned Parenthood argues is arbitrary and illegal. Louisiana's first whack at the pi&ntilde;ata went like this:</p> <blockquote> <p>Louisiana's attorneys [declared] that there are 2,000 family planning providers ready to accommodate new patients [if the state defunds Planned Parenthood]. A federal judge, reviewing the list in an early September court hearing, found hundreds of entries for specialists such as <a href="" target="_blank">ophthalmologists; nursing homes caregivers; dentists;</a> <a href="" target="_blank">ear, nose, and throat doctors; and even cosmetic surgeons</a>.</p> <p>"It strikes me as extremely odd that you have a dermatologist, an audiologist, a dentist who are billing for family planning services," <a href="" target="_blank">said the judge</a>, John deGravelles, who will determine in the next week whether it is legal for the state to end Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contracts. "But that is what you're representing to the court? You're telling me that they can provide family planning and related services?"</p> </blockquote> <p>This week, Louisiana withdrew that line of argument and <a href="" target="_blank">prepared a new one</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>State officials say they will shortly refile to defund Planned Parenthood "for cause"&mdash;the "cause" being that the organization reached&nbsp;a $4.3-million settlement&nbsp;in Texas in 2013 over a billing dispute, which Louisiana&nbsp;claims makes it unsuitable to treat women in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.</p> </blockquote> <p>In 2014, Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast performed 2,100 well-woman exams, 1,200 pap smears, and 11,000 STI tests, and it administered long-lasting contraceptives 4,100 times, to 5,200 patients. The Centers for Disease Control <a href=";list=nl_enl_news&amp;src=nl&amp;date=090215" target="_blank">rank Louisiana</a> first in the country in gonorrhea infections, second in Chlamydia infections, and third in HIV and syphilis infections. The RealClearPolitics polling average <a href="" target="_blank">ranks Jindal</a> second in losing the GOP nomination for president.</p></body></html> MoJo 2016 Elections Reproductive Rights The Right Thu, 17 Sep 2015 00:45:42 +0000 Molly Redden 284346 at Louisiana: Women Don’t Need Planned Parenthood. They Have Dentists. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The task seems straightforward: Make a list of health care providers that would fill the void if Louisiana succeeded in defunding Planned Parenthood. But the state, which is fighting <a href="" target="_blank">a court battle</a> to strip the group of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Medicaid funds, is struggling to figure out who would provide poor women with family planning care if not Planned Parenthood.</p> <p>Nowhere is this struggle more apparent than in <a href="" target="_blank">a recent declaration</a> by Louisiana's attorneys that there are 2,000 family planning providers ready to accommodate new patients. A federal judge, reviewing the list in an early September court hearing, found hundreds of entries for specialists such as <a href="" target="_blank">ophthalmologists; nursing homes caregivers; dentists;</a> <a href="" target="_blank">ear, nose, and throat doctors; and even cosmetic surgeons</a>.</p> <p>"It strikes me as extremely odd that you have a dermatologist, an audiologist, a dentist who are billing for family planning services," <a href="" target="_blank">said the judge</a>, John deGravelles, who will determine in the next week whether it is legal for the state to end Planned Parenthood's Medicaid contracts. "But that is what you're representing to the court? You're telling me that they can provide family planning and related services?"</p> <div class="inline inline-right" style="display: table; width: 1%"><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-09-11%20at%2012.58.55%20PM.png"></a> <div class="caption"><strong>The war on women is over&mdash;and women lost. Read <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Mother Jones'</em> investigation</a> into what happened after conservatives fundamentally rewrote America's abortion laws. </strong></div> </div> <p>His harsh questioning sent the state back to the drawing board. On Tuesday, the state's attorneys acknowledged that the dentists and other specialists didn't belong on the list. They filed a <a href="" target="_blank">pared-down version</a> that lists just 29 health care providers.</p> <p>Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican contender for the presidency, moved to cut off $730,000 in Medicaid reimbursements to the state's two Planned Parenthood clinics in late August in response to several heavily edited, widely circulated videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal parts, which is illegal.</p> <p>Planned Parenthood denies the charges and has asked for an injunction to block Jindal.</p> <p>In straining to identify alternate providers, the state has added to a growing body of evidence that other health care providers would have a difficult time accommodating low-income women if Planned Parenthood were no longer able to take Medicaid.<strong> </strong>Planned Parenthood clinics in Louisiana do not provide abortions. Instead, the clinics provide <a href="" target="_blank">thousands</a> of annual cancer and STI screenings, overwhelmingly to low-income women on Medicaid. In Louisiana alone, the group last year performed 2,100 well-woman exams, 1,200 pap smears, and 11,000 STI tests, and it administered long-lasting contraceptives 4,100 times, to 5,200 patients, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast said.</p> <p>Several Louisiana health care providers that would have to take over Planned Parenthood's patients have stressed that <a href="" target="_blank">their capacity to do so is very limited</a>. "You can't just cut Planned Parenthood off one day and expect everyone across the city to absorb the patients," Stephanie Taylor, who oversees the state's efforts to curb sexually transmitted diseases, <a href="" target="_blank">told the <em>New York Times</em></a>. "There needs to be time to build the capacity."</p> <p>Another obstacle is the dearth of family planning clinics and doctors that accept women on Medicaid or other forms of public funding. Across the country, Planned Parenthood provides contraception to <a href="" target="_blank">almost 40 percent of women</a> who rely on public programs for family planning. The <em>Times </em>notes that four out of five Planned Parenthood patients have incomes below 150 percent of the poverty level, at a time when two-thirds of states reported difficulties ensuring there are enough health providers, especially OB-GYNs, for Medicaid patients.</p> <p>On Tuesday, there was fresh evidence for what the fight to defund Planned Parenthood means for poor women. The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights think tank, published an <a href="" target="_blank">analysis</a> of nearly 500 counties where Planned Parenthood operates clinics. In 103 of those counties, Planned Parenthood is the health care provider for every single woman who relies on public funding for contraception. In an additional 229 counties, Planned Parenthood clinics provide care for at least half of patients who rely on Medicaid.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/PlannedParenthoodIsCritical-HealthAffairs.jpg"></div> <p>"Certainly in the short term, it is doubtful that other providers could step up in a timely way to absorb the millions of women suddenly left without their preferred source of care and whether those providers could offer the same degree of accessible, quality contraceptive care offered by Planned Parenthood," the Guttmacher researchers wrote.</p> <p>But the notion that patients could turn elsewhere remains a key rationale when abortion foes attempt to strip the group of <a href="" target="_blank">$528 million in federal funding</a>. The argument came up frequently in a Wednesday hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on the Planned Parenthood sting videos. "We often hear that if Planned Parenthood were to be defunded, there would be a health crisis among women without the services they provide," <a href="" target="_blank">testified Gianna Jessen</a>, an anti-abortion activist who was born after an unsuccessful abortion. "This is absolutely false. Pregnancy resource centers are located nationwide as an option for the woman in crisis." Abortion foes have also <a href="" target="_blank">touted a map</a> showing more than 13,500 clinics that could replace Planned Parenthood.</p> <p>Sen. Bill Cassidy, the junior Republican from Louisiana, has said there were <a href="" target="_blank">more than 100 community health care centers</a> "scattered all over the state" that could accept Planned Parenthood's patients.</p> <p>Lawyers for the state appeared to contradict him after they whittled down their list of capable providers to 29. And even among those providers, their ability to pick up Planned Parenthood's slack is questionable. In Baton Rouge, the site of one of two Louisiana Planned Parenthood clinics, the state lists five alternate providers. But only three of those offer contraception, according to the state's filing, and two of those have wait times ranging from two to seven weeks. One of the Baton Rouge clinics the state suggested is not accepting any new patients for STI, breast cancer, or cervical cancer screenings.</p> <p>The state did not withdraw its original list without a fight. When pressured by Judge deGravelles, an attorney for Louisiana stood by the list, saying it represented every provider in the state that had used a family-planning billing code for insurance reimbursement. Here is an excerpt of <a href="" target="_blank">the transcript</a>:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202015-09-10%20at%202.20.46%20PM.png"></div> </div> <p>The judge is <a href="" target="_blank">set to rule</a> on Planned Parenthood's call for an injunction before September 15, when the state's contract with Planned Parenthood would expire and Medicaid reimbursements would stop flowing.</p> <p>In the September 2 hearing, deGravelles expressed reluctance to allow the contract to expire, since the state hadn't articulated a good reason for doing so. "You have 5,200 women who are getting their care at these facilities," he said. "If these contracts are terminated that care is going to be disrupted&hellip;for no reason related to the health care they're getting.&hellip;They're going to have to get other doctors, they're going to have to seek out other places to get their health care. Correct?"</p> <p>"They will have to do that," a lawyer for the state replied. "Correct."</p></body></html> Politics Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Top Stories Thu, 10 Sep 2015 20:31:50 +0000 Molly Redden 283861 at