KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Va. Lawmakers Approve Scaled-Back Abortion Ultrasound Bill

Lawmakers in Virginia have passed a scaled-back version of a contentious ultrasound proposal that would force women to get a "non-invasive" ultrasound before having an abortion.

The Washington Post: Virginia Senate Approves Contentious Ultrasound Bill
The Virginia Senate narrowly approved Tuesday a modified version of a contentious proposal that would require women to get an external ultrasound before an abortion (Kumar, 2/28).

Battles also rage in Texas over a similar sonogram law already being enforced —

The Fort Worth Star Telegram: Texas Sonogram Law Has Some Patients Unhappy
Women seeking abortions at Whole Woman's Health in south Fort Worth often arrive upset or angry about Texas's new sonogram law, which began being fully enforced three weeks ago, a health center official says. Some are unhappy about the requirement that the physician verbally describes the fetus during a sonogram. But it's the hardship of having to schedule two appointments — one for the sonogram and another for the surgery no fewer than 24 hours later — that draws the most consistent ire (Branch, 2/29).

The Texas Tribune: Texas Lawmakers Split On Saving Women's Health Program
Two of the Legislature's top public health leaders are defending Republican lawmakers' pledge to end the entire Women's Health Program rather than allow Planned Parenthood to participate. ... "I guess we all need to see what it looks like when we don't have it, and then we may need to regroup at that point," said state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (Tan, 2/28). 

In the meantime, lawmakers in California and Pennsylvania are also considering abortion legislation, albeit in very different proposals —

Los Angeles Times: California Bill Would Let Non-Doctors Do Some Abortions To Expand Access
A state lawmaker is proposing to allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse midwives to perform routine abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy as a way of expanding access to the procedure across California (Riccardi, 2/29).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa. House Proposes Preabortion Ultrasound
Pennsylvania could be the next battleground in the fight over whether a woman seeking an abortion must have an ultrasound exam and, if so, whether it involves inserting a probe into her vagina. … The furor has not daunted Pennsylvania Rep. Kathy Rapp (R., Warren), lead sponsor of House Bill 1077, which mandates a preabortion ultrasound test. … Rapp said she believed her bill, called the Women's Right to Know Act, would require "the ultrasounds on the belly. Any doctor who wanted to proceed to transvaginal ultrasound would have to have a good reason." But the language of the bill suggests otherwise (McCullough, 3/29).

And in Colorado, the contraception coverage mandate has split advocates and the state's attorney general — 

Health Policy Solutions (a Colorado news service): Birth Control Battle Escalates
The battle over contraception has escalated in Colorado with Planned Parenthood officials calling out Colorado's Attorney General for opposing federal birth control mandates. Attorney General John Suthers signed a letter this month along with 11 other attorneys general demanding a reversal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' new requirement that health plans offer birth control coverage. ... Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, the political arm of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, quickly took aim at Suthers (Kerwin McCrimmon, 2/28). 

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