KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Mich. Panel Strips Abortion From Blue Cross Bill; Ark. House Takes Action

State legislatures wrestle with measures that deal with abortion.

The Associated Press: Michigan House Panel Oks Blue Cross Changes Without Abortion Provision
A House panel on Thursday overwhelmingly approved legislation to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, leaving out anti-abortion provisions that torpedoed an earlier effort to change the status of the state’s largest health insurer. The 11-0 votes signaled — at least for now — that one of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s top legislative priorities could reach his desk without language that led him to veto similar legislation in late December. The Senate OK’d the new Blue Cross bills in late January (Eggert, 2/22).

Reuters: Arkansas House Approves Bill Banning Abortions At 20 Weeks
The Republican-controlled Arkansas House of Representatives approved a bill on Thursday to ban abortions at 20 weeks into a pregnancy and a separate measure that, if it becomes law, would be the stiffest abortion restriction in the country. Lawmakers voted 80-10 to pass the 20-week legislation that would only allow exceptions in the case of rape, incest or to save the mother's life (Parker, 2/21).

In related news -

NPR: Morning-After Pills Don't Cause Abortion, Studies Say
The constant references to Plan B and ella as abortion-causing pills frustrates Susan Wood, a professor of health policy at George Washington University and a former assistant commissioner for women's health at the FDA. ... For years, scientists knew the pills, particularly Plan B, were highly effective in preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex but weren't exactly sure how they managed that. "It wasn't really clear whether it worked before ovulation or after ovulation," says Wood. Scientists did know the drug worked primarily by preventing ovulation. It stops an egg from being released from a woman's ovary and thus prevents any chance of fertilization and pregnancy. But they also thought the drug might make it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in a woman's uterus. Technically, that's not an abortion, says Wood (Rovner, 2/21).

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