KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Ark. Abortion Law Sets Off New Clash Over Reproductive Rights

The law, which the legislature passed by overriding the governor's veto, comes as a strict Idaho law was struck down by a federal judge.

The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog: Arkansas A.G. Says He'll Defend Abortion Ban Despite Concerns
A day after Arkansas lawmakers voted to enact the most-stringent abortion restrictions in the nation, the state's attorney general said he is preparing to defend the law against inevitable challenges – despite his personal feelings on the matter. Some abortion rights supporters indicated that they would sue Arkansas in federal court to try and overturn the law, which bars most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy (Gershman, 3/7).

PBS NewsHour: Arkansas Abortion Law Bans Procedures After 12 Weeks of Pregnancy (Video)
The Arkansas legislature passed the nation's strictest abortion rules, outlawing any procedures done after the 12th week of pregnancy. To learn more about the legal ramifications for doctors under the new law and how it will effect other states, Hari Sreenivasan talks with Suzi Parker, a reporter for Reuters from Little Rock (3/7).

Reuters: In Arkansas, Challenges Expected For Nation’s Strictest Abortion Law
Abortion rights groups say they plan to challenge a new Arkansas law adopted on Wednesday that will prohibit most abortions after about 12 weeks of pregnancy and is the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. The measure, which lawmakers approved over Democratic Governor Mike Beebe's veto, prohibits abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected by a standard ultrasound (Parker, 3/7).

The Associated Press: Arkansas Republicans Eye Planned Parenthood Funds Next
State Sen. Jason Rapert, who was behind the 12-week ban, now wants to cut all public funding to Planned Parenthood. And the state’s top anti-abortion advocacy group is urging lawmakers to ban providers from remotely administering the abortion pill via a video hookup — a practice they've derided as "webcam abortions." The moves mark a major shift in a state already considered to have some of the most tightest restrictions on abortion in the nation (DeMillo, 3/7).

Bloomberg: Abortion War Renewed As Arkansas Passes Toughest Limits
An Idaho ban on abortions after 20 weeks was overturned just as Arkansas lawmakers passed a more restrictive law opponents vowed to fight, intensifying a renewed debate over reproductive rights that has involved at least 10 states. U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill in Boise on March 6 granted a mother's request to strike down the state's ban and denied a prosecutor’s request to dismiss her challenge, saying the law was an unconstitutional obstacle to women's rights (Milford and Schneider, 3/8).

Los Angeles Times: Idaho Law Banning Abortions After 20 Weeks Ruled Unconstitutional
A federal judge has struck down an Idaho law prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks, ruling that the so-called fetal pain law violates U.S. Supreme Court prohibitions against unduly impeding a woman's ability to seek an abortion before her fetus is able to live outside the womb. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Boise declared the 2011 law -- similar to limits adopted in at least seven other states -- to be unconstitutional in a ruling that took the Idaho Legislature to task for acting against the advice of its own attorney general (Murphy, 3/7).

Politico: Idaho 'Fetal Pain' Abortion Law Is Struck Down
The ruling, by a Democrat-nominated district judge, begins a new phase in the legal fight over a spate of laws enacted in the past couple of years that push earlier and earlier bans on abortion, mostly based on the argument that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks. Arkansas is the most recent to act, passing both a 20-week ban and a 12-week one — constituting what abortion rights proponents consider the most restrictive state laws in the nation (Smith, 3/8).

Meanwhile abortion issues are also simmering in other states.

The Texas Tribune: Hundreds Rally To Let Banned Providers Back In WHP
Hundreds of people rallied at the Capitol on Thursday, demanding that Planned Parenthood clinics be allowed back into the Women's Health Program. They called on lawmakers to pass House Bill 2819, authored by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, which would restore the Medicaid Women’s Health Program to the way it was before last session, when Republican lawmakers implemented a ban on clinics "affiliated" with abortion providers (Chammah, 3/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Va. Board Of Health Conducts Public Hearing On New Abortion Clinic Regulations
Former Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley was among more than two dozen people who testified Thursday at the latest in a series of public hearings on the state's new abortion clinic regulations (3/7).

Richmond Times Dispatch: Both Sides Air Arguments Over Proposed Abortion Clinic Rules
More than two dozen advocates were given 2 minutes each to voice support or criticism over the regulations, which, if approved during a Board of Health meeting next month, would make Virginia among the most restrictive states in the nation in regulating abortion clinics. Several former and current officials expressed reservations about the new rules going forward — most prominently Dr. Karen Remley, the former state health commissioner who resigned in October (Nolan, 3/8).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.