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This Week in Pro-Choice News: Washington Bucks the Trend, Do Republicans Hate Women More Than Cancer, and More!

Posted by Blogging Czar Lauren Kuhlik

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Washington’s publicly funded hospital districts must offer contraception and abortion: State Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued an opinion that based on a 1991 initiative, hospitals that offer maternity services must also offer contraception and abortion services.  Because many public hospitals are merging with faith-based ones, this comes as welcome news to those of us concerned with women’s access to reproductive health care.  Go Washington! [Union Bulletin]

Women’s health clinic closures disproportionately impact the poor: Since 2010, at least 54 clinics that offer abortions have closed, mostly because of regressive anti-choice legislation.  Women who live in rural areas frequently have to travel vast distances in order to access remaining clinics.  In addition, waiting periods often require women to wait 1-3 days after consulting with a doctor before obtaining an abortion.  So the only women who can reasonably access abortion in those areas are those who have access to reliable transportation and who are able to take multiple days off of work.  These facts just make the proposed cuts to food stamps all the more depressing.  Remind me why Republicans accuse the poor of instigating class warfare? [Huffington Post]

In slightly better news, Appeals Court rules that Medicaid can cover health care: The 9th US Circuit Court has ruled that Arizona cannot prevent Medicaid from covering services provided by clinics that perform abortions.  Just to be very clear, the Arizona law would have prevented patients from being reimbused after obtaining such deviant services as contraception and cancer screening.  So do Republicans actually hate women more than they hate cancer now?  This ruling agrees with similar decisions by lower courts.  Medicaid cannot pay for abortion services, but it can pay for services offered by doctors who perform abortions.  [Arizona Central]

Stricter standards for “medical necessity” likely unconstitutional: Alaska is attempting to define when abortion is medically necessary more narrowly, thereby decreasing the number of abortions that Medicaid could cover.  These standards would be more stringent than those applied to other medical procedures, and so would place an undue burden on women seeking abortion.  Jean Mischel, a member of the state Legislative Affairs Agency, wrote a memo arguing that the new rules will likely be found unconstitutional, and State Senator Hollis French agreed, adding that the rules target poor women.  [KTUU]

ACLU is suing to prevent absurd abortion pill regulations in Indiana: The Indiana General Assembly recently passed a law that would require clinics that provide abortions to meet strict standards before they can prescribe the abortion pill.  In contrast, doctors’ offices are able to prescribe the pill without excess regulation.  The ACLU and Planned Parenthood are arguing that there is no reason that abortion providers should have to meet a higher bar than doctors’ offices.  The law would only affect one clinic—which happens to be Planned Parenthood.  So Indiana decided to spend the time and money required to pass a law just to make life harder for a single Planned Parenthood clinic.  Hopefully Indiana citizens will realize that is not a responsible way to govern.    [Indiana Public Media] 

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