State Lawmakers Take Up Contraception Coverage, Abortion Fights
States are taking up the fight over the Obama administration's contraception coverage mandate with several state legislatures proposing bills of their own to block the mandate. In the meantime, Virginia mulls a bill that would require women to get a sonogram before an abortion, and a federal judge is set to rule on requiring pharmacists there to carry emergency contraception.
Politico Pro: Contraception Coverage Fights Spread To States
The contraception fight is expanding far beyond Washington, with several states eyeing ways of blocking the new Obama administration rule requiring most insurers cover contraception, or considering rolling back rules that the states themselves already had on the books. The combination of a hot-button social issue and the calendar for state implementation of the health care reform law's fine print virtually guarantees the fight will continue for months. Even if the debate subsides in Washington, voters may hear about it in their states for some time to come (Feder and Millman, 2/21).
MSNBC: Ave Maria Files Suit Over Health Care Mandate
Ave Maria University is suing the federal government over the health care mandate that requires employers' health insurance to cover contraception drugs. University President Jim Towey says he wants the federal government to leave them alone. The university made that point clear by becoming the first religious institution in Florida to file suit against the federal government on this issue. And he admits that it's going to be quite the legal battle (2/21).
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Abortion Bill Gaining Momentum, Has Support Of Georgia Speaker
Legislation is moving quickly through the House that would leave women with less time to have an abortion without restrictions, and it appears destined for a floor debate with the support of House Speaker David Ralston. House Bill 954 would cut the time a woman could have an unimpeded abortion to 20 weeks from about 26 weeks. … That Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, will push this abortion bill among those that are routinely filed in the General Assembly is noteworthy. He helped rein in abortion bills in previous years that he believed were designed to put the state in jeopardy as a legal test case or to raise the profiles of activists (Quinn, 2/21).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: State Senate's Bill To Limit Abortion Drugs Blocked
Women could not receive drugs that induce abortions unless a doctor gives them a physical exam and is in the same room when they receive the drugs, under a bill that received preliminary approval by the state Senate on Tuesday. But Democrats used a procedural move to block a final vote on the measure. An aide to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said the bill is expected to be taken up again Wednesday (Bergquist and Stein, 2/21).
Associated Press/(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: Madision: Bill Affecting Abortion Providers Is Delayed
A contentious bill to add rules for physicians treating patients who are seeking an abortion was blocked Tuesday — at least temporarily — by a Democratic member of the Wisconsin Senate. The proposed bill would add specific rules for physicians that supporters say would ensure a pregnant woman isn't intimidated by a partner or family member into having an abortion. It also would ban physicians from using a webcam to consult with patients before prescribing abortion-inducing drugs (Rodriguez, 2/21).
Meanwhile, a bill in Virginia that would require a woman get a sonogram before an abortion is pending —
The Washington Post: Virginia Governor No Longer Fully Supports Ultrasounds Before Abortions
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is backing off his unconditional support for a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion, focusing new attention on one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in Virginia's General Assembly this year. Until this weekend, McDonnell (R) and his aides had said the governor would sign the measure if it made it to his desk. McDonnell, who strongly opposes abortion, will no longer make that commitment (Kumar, 2/21).
CBS (Video): Is A Required Ultrasound A Barrier To Abortion?
Abortion is being debated once again on the campaign trail and in state capitals. Lawmakers in Virginia could vote as early as Wednesday on a law that would require women to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion. A similar law is already on the books in Texas. … Republican State Senator Dan Patrick insists this law was designed to address what he says was a lack of adequate health care for women seeking abortions. … One of the requirements of the law is that only doctors or certified sonographers perform the sonogram. It's a requirement unique to women wanting abortions: CBS News found there are no similar requirements for any other sonogram procedures in Texas (Werner, 2/21).
And a ruling is expected in Washington state Wednesday on requiring pharmacists to carry contraception —
Reuters: Debate Over Conscience In The Workplace Intensifies
Can a state require a pharmacy to stock and dispense emergency contraception — even when the owner considers the drug immoral? That's the question at the heart of a long-running legal battle in Washington state, expected to be decided Wednesday with a ruling from U.S. District Court in Seattle. It's the latest twist in a contentious national debate over the role of conscience in the workplace (Simon, 2/21).