KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Virginia Uproar Frames Abortion, Contraception Legislation In Many States

States are grappling with reproduction-related issues after Virginia's pre-abortion ultrasound bill passed: In California, lawmakers are set to consider a bill to give more women access to early-term abortions while lawmakers in Ohio and Minnesota consider legislation on contraception.

McClatchy: Abortion Bill Brings Issue To The Forefront In California 
As proposals to tighten abortion laws work their way through statehouses across the country, California lawmakers are set to consider legislation aimed at giving more women access to first-term pregnancy terminations. The California bill, by Democratic Sen. Christine Kehoe, would allow nurse practitioners, physicians assistants and certified nurse midwives to perform a procedure known as "aspiration" abortion, which employs a suction method to remove a fetus from a uterus. The push, which would make the state the fifth to allow non-doctors to perform the procedure, comes as debate over abortion and reproductive health issues, including birth control coverage, heats up across the nation (Van Oot, 3/8).

Politico Pro: Va. Ultrasound Uproar Shapes National Debate
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed legislation Wednesday that would require abdominal ultrasounds for women requesting abortions, but it was a toned-down version of the original, which would have included, in some cases, ultrasounds that use a transvaginal procedure. The firestorm over that proposal has had an impact in other states. In Pennsylvania, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai canceled a debate on the state's proposed ultrasound law last week, saying it would not be scheduled for a vote anytime soon (Smith, 3/9).

MSNBC: Want Viagra? Ohio Lawmaker Wants Men To Get Second Opinion
Men in the Buckeye State seeking prescription drugs for erectile dysfunction such as Viagra will have a tougher time getting their little blue pills if one Ohio lawmaker has her way. State Sen. Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, this week introduced Senate Bill 307, which is aimed at protecting men from the risks of PDE-5 inhibitors -- drugs like Viagra that are commonly used to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction -- in an effort to "guide men to make the right decision for their bodies." Turner told on Thursday that the measure was her way of sending a message to the Legislature in response to Ohio's so-called Heartbeat Bill. ... That measure would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected -- sometimes as early as in the sixth week of pregnancy (Omer, 3/8).

MinnPost: Does DFL's Proposed Birth-Control Benefit Conflict With Obama's Health Care Efforts?
A DFL legislative proposal to require insurance plans to cover birth control without co-pays may run counter to President Obama's efforts to reform health care. As part of guidelines to help states conform to the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services has directed that states not add benefits as part of the "Essential Health Benefits" (EHB) of health care reform. … However, state Rep. Erin Murphy of St. Paul, one of the authors of the birth control proposal, believes the proposed legislation is in line with the spirit of health care reform (Brucato, 3/8).

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