Planned Parenthood filed a federal challenge on Thursday to an Indiana law requiring clinics that administer the so-called abortion pill to have full surgical facilities, which it says would halt abortion services at a clinic in the state.
Under the law, Planned Parenthood would have to upgrade its clinic in Lafayette, Indiana, to surgical standards or stop administering RU-486, commonly called the abortion pill, it said in a lawsuit filed in Indianapolis federal court.
Separately, the group that has been at the forefront of the U.S. national battle over abortion won a legal fight to block an Arizona law that would have cut off funding through the state for its health care clinics because they also performs abortions.
Imposing surgical facility requirements on clinics where no surgery is performed “is not only unreasonable, it is utterly irrational …,” Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky said in the lawsuit, which seeks a federal court injunction.
Legislators supporting the law that took effect July 1 have said it would protect women’s health. It requires clinics providing non-surgical abortions to have separate procedure, recovery and scrub rooms like surgical centers starting January 1.
States aiming to restrict abortion access were dealt a setback Tuesday when the US Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal of a lower court decision blocking an Indiana measure that would have prohibited Medicaid funding for health providers that perform abortion services.
The decision is likely to affect a similar proposed ban making its way through the legislature in Arizona. Both states argue that taxpayers are inadvertently funding abortions when health-care clinics like Planned Parenthood receive Medicaid funding for services other than abortion. Federal law prevents the direct funding of abortion services, but the measures in Indiana and Arizona are seen as going a step further in stripping Medicaid dollars from any organization that offers abortion.
Opponents of the measures say the strategy denies low-income patients the right to obtain health care from their provider of choice. The Indiana chapter of Planned Parenthood, which operates 28 clinics in the state, says that it serves more than 9,300 Medicaid patients annually for preventive-care services that include cancer screenings, routine medical exams, and birth control.
Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of the Indiana chapter, released a statement Tuesday, characterizing legislators’ strategy as “trying to score political points and wasting taxpayer dollars.” Medicaid funding represents about 20 percent of the group’s annual budget of $15 million.
The New Mexico Medical Board has exonerated Dr. Shelly Sella of allegations of gross negligence in her handling of a late term abortion in 2011.
The board voted unanimously this morning to exonerate her of the complaint after more than 45 minutes of deliberation. The board gave no explanation for its decision.
The board investigation was spurred not by a complaint from the patient, but from local and national abortion opponents, including Operation Rescue.
The anti-abortion advocates had no first hand information about the case, but submitted a 911 emergency recording to the board as evidence along with recordings of other nearly a dozen 911 calls involving abortions at Albuquerque clinics. The recordings that dated back to 2008 were obtained from the city of Albuquerque through the state Inspection of Public Records Act.
The complete article is here: » Breaking: N.M. Medical Board Clears Abortion Doctor of Negligence Claim
There’s a little more about the doctor involved, who worked with Dr. Tiller before his death, here:
Sella, 55, is a native of Israel who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Sackler School of Medicine in Israel.
Her New Mexico medical licensing file shows three prior medical board investigations in Kansas that were triggered by complaints from the national anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue.
Only one was sustained, involving a handwritten note in a patient’s medical file that wasn’t legible or sufficient. She was required to take a course on record keeping.
Sella testified at the hearing that she lives in Oakland, Calif., but shares a practice in Albuquerque with Dr. Susan Robinson, who also worked with Tiller.
She and Robinson are featured in a documentary called ‘After Tiller’ that was screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in January.
Sella testified during the disciplinary hearing that she felt ‘bereft’ after Tiller was assassinated.
‘Why did you continue to provide abortion services?’ her attorney Joseph Goldberg asked.
‘… I never thought of stopping, very committed to this work,’ she responded. ‘Everyday that I go to work renews my commitment.’
I don’t understand why Operation Rescue should be allowed to bring a case like this to the New Mexico Medical Board. I’m glad the doctor was exonerated. I’m sorry she is being harassed this way.
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When right-wing politicians and activists go after Planned Parenthood, which has been one of their favorite pastimes in recent years, they often say they are fighting against abortion.
That’s what Representative Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican, said when the House voted to kill all of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. That’s the excuse Texas lawmakers gave when they slashed money for women’s health services—including of course grants for Planned Parenthood clinics—by two thirds. Texas is now planning to shut down a Medicaid program that serves 130,000 women—in the name of preventing Planned Parenthood from getting money for abortions.
These politicians are telling the truth about one thing: they don’t like Planned Parenthood.
But it’s simply not true that abortion is what’s at stake here—at least not primarily. The Hyde Amendment, which Congress has been tacking onto Medicaid spending bills for 36 years, already prohibits the spending of federal money on abortion services.
Bill O’Reilly and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham falsely claimed that abortion is the “core business” of Planned Parenthood, when, in fact, abortion services made up 3 percent of the organization’s medical activities in 2010. Ingraham also claimed that Planned Parenthood spends $56 million per year on “lobbying”; it actually spent $56 million in 2010 on “public policy,” which includes a variety of activities.
O’Reilly, Ingraham Falsely Claim Abortion Is Planned Parenthood’s “Core Business”
Ingraham: “Abortion Is The Core Business Of Planned Parenthood.” From the January 5 edition of The O’Reilly Factor:
INGRAHAM: But the key fact is, Bill, that Planned Parenthood really exists — it does all these other things for sure, but abortion is the core business of Planned Parenthood.
BILL O’REILLY (host): That is their core business, there’s no doubt about it.
INGRAHAM: No doubt about it. No doubt about it. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 1/5/12]
Planned Parenthood Annual Report: Abortion Services Made Up 3% Of Medical Services Provided In 2010. From Planned Parenthood’s 2009-2010 Annual Report:
H.R.2543 - Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act
To direct the Federal Trade Commission to prescribe rules prohibiting deceptive advertising of abortion services.
In October, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that banned misleading advertisements for the city’s crisis pregnancy centers. The ordinance allows courts to fine crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel pregnant women against abortion, up to $500 every time they falsely imply in advertisements that they offer abortion services. First Resort, Inc., one of the centers singled out by the law, responded with a suit accusing the city of a First Amendment violation in less than a month. The case is now going to the United States District Court for Northern California. First Amendment challenges have already felled, blocked, or weakened similar legislation in federal courts all over the country—in Baltimore, New York City, and Montgomery County, Maryland. An Austin law is currently under review. Is this law likely to suffer the fate of its precursors? Despite similarities, advocates and experts insist that it stands a better chance of being upheld—and, possibly, changing the playing field when it comes reining in the deceptive advertising of crisis pregnancy centers.
Crisis pregnancy centers seek to dissuade women and girls from seeking abortions by walking them through alternative options, such as adoption. Not all of them are up front about their motives, and their indirection can delay a woman’s decision-making until emergency contraceptives are no longer effective or until an abortion is illegal. There are obviously a range of approaches that these centers use; in the worst cases, a 2006 Congressional investigation found that centers led women to believe the falsehoods that abortion is linked to breast cancer, high rate of future infertility, and psychological effects akin to PTSD.
The activities of First Resort appeared to San Francisco city officials to occupy the more duplicitous end of this spectrum. San Francisco’s city attorney says the non-profit center has paid to be the first Google result when a person searches for “abortion San Francisco.” Although First Resort’s website includes “pre and post abortion counseling” among its services, lists abortion as an option for unwanted pregnancy, and features a testimonial from a client who chose to have an abortion, First Resort CEO Shari Plunkett says the primary reason for its existence is to prevent abortions. And, crucially, nowhere on its website does First Resort disclose that it does not offer abortions or referrals to abortion providers. Omissions like these are at the core of the claim that the center misleads through false advertising.
The San Francisco ordinance addresses these matters using a different tactic than past legislation. Other laws—such as the New York version—have attempted to compel speech, requiring crisis centers to post signs informing women that they do not provide abortion services or that the government recommends fully-licensed medical facilities. Steven Shiffrin, a law professor at Cornell University and a First Amendment expert, explains that while laws compelling speech have proven vulnerable, there is ample judicial precedent behind laws that target advertising. “There’s no constitutional right to deceive,” he says.
If they can’t win in Mississippi, they can’t win anywhere: that’s the takeaway when contemplating the resounding defeat of a ballot initiative that would extend personhood status to fertilized eggs. Going into election day, the polls were evenly divided on the issue, but then the pro-choicers won handily, 57-43 percent. The numbers lead to the unavoidable conclusion that not only did all the undecided voters break for the pro-choicers, but at least some people who said they were voting for the bill lied to pollsters, or changed their minds at the last moment. Part of the reason for this is that the religious right has so much social control in Mississippi that people are afraid to speak aloud what they secretly think, and another part of it is that a coalition of civil rights and faith leaders that aren’t part of the hyper-misogynist fundamentalist faction did a good job of educating the public on how extreme this measure is.
The other important takeaway from this is that there’s a genuine disconnect between the anti-choice movement and people who identify as “pro-life” but aren’t in the movement. Anti-choice activists look at polling data showing that a slight majority of Americans claim to be “pro-life” and declare victory, but what those polls really reflect is not people’s genuine opinions on reproductive rights so much as the power of the anti-choice movement to cow people into cursory agreements with them out of fear of being seen as impious. In other words, saying you’re “pro-life” is more about marking you as a member of a tribe, pledging fealty to your faith or to your identity as a “conservative,” for a lot of people. If you dig into the Gallup numbers, in fact, it seems that on the abortion issue alone, around half of people who claim to be “pro-life” actually would like abortion services to be available in the cases they imagine that they or their loved ones could need them.