Get ready for a lightning round today, because SO MUCH happened this week! From the status of abortion care in the states to the sorry state of parental leave, here’s what you need to know about the week in reproductive rights that was.
Ohio became the latest state to defund Planned Parenthood this week, and the first to specifically target not family planning funds but supplemental health care funds that pay for STI and HIV testing as well as infant mortality reduction programs that supplement the state’s troubled health care system. To make up for the loss of these programs, the Guardian reports, lawmakers provided a list of alternatives they said would provide the same services–programs that included dentist’s offices, school nurses, and a food bank.
Meanwhile, in South Dakota, they keep passing laws that would place undue burdens on abortion seekers as well as abortion providers–if they had any. As the Minneapolis-based City Pages reports, the only doctors performing abortions in the single Planned Parenthood clinic left in South Dakota are Minnesotans–doctors who fly in to perform a common procedure that no doctor in the state is willing to do. “Think of it as Haiti after the earthquake. South Dakota has legislated itself into the Third World.”
One such doctor, Willie J. Parker, moved from his home in Chicago to provide abortions full-time in the South, another major battleground in the war against abortion access. Writing in the New York Times, he explains why he travels across state lines to places like Alabama to provide abortions. “The short answer is: Because I can. And: Because if I don’t, who will?”
In somewhat happier news, the only abortion clinic remaining in another Southern state, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi, will soon begin offering comprehensive family planning services, including contraception, at its iconic pink clinic. Currently, the Jackson Free Press reports, doctors have to send women out of the clinic to get contraception or STI testing after they receive abortions.
The Guttmacher Institute has a useful piece laying out the difference between the political and policy arguments surrounding over-the-counter birth control. In a nutshell: Democrats generally support OTC birth-control pills, on the grounds that easier access will lower the rate of unintended pregnancy rates, as long as they’re covered under the Affordable Care Act, which mandates free access to birth control. Republicans say they support OTC birth control, but want to exempt it from the ACA, so that insurance companies would no longer have to pay for it as a benefit and women would be at the mercy of the free market to determine the price. Another interesting issue Guttmacher delves into is how safe OTC pills will be, given the likelihood of side effects among those taking hormonal birth control pills, and concerns that women will stop getting checkups and other health care when pills are available over the counter.
RH Reality Check considers the burning question on everyone’s mind as we head into SCOTUS season: “Justice Kennedy can save Roe. But will he?” The case the court will consider this term involves a law in Texas that requires abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and outfit their facilities to meet emergency-room standards. The aim of such onerous laws, known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider, or TRAP, laws, is to shut abortion clinics down, so the Supremes’ decision, which hinges on Kennedy as the swing vote, will determine whether states have the right to regulate abortion clinics out of existence.
Bonus! If you’re curious why SCOTUS decided to consider the Texas law and not two other abortion-related cases originating in New Hampshire and Mississippi, RH Reality Check has you covered there as well.
Finally, a heartbreaking argument for more paid parental leave comes from the New York Times’ Parenting blog, where a mother describes having to put her baby in daycare before she was ready, and the tragedy that ensued after she did.