Abortion

 

Just one step away...

Via Huffington Post:

Idaho already has some of the most extreme abortion restrictions on the books, with nearly all abortions banned in the state and an affirmative defense law that essentially asserts any doctor who provides an abortion is guilty until proven innocent. And now Idaho Republicans have set their sights on hindering certain residents from traveling out of state to get an abortion.

via Quinn Yeargain of Bolts:

A decade ago, when conservatives were attacking President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act as government encroachment in health care, they worked to amend state constitutions around the country to affirm a broad right for people to control their own medical decisions.

“Each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions,” reads section 38(a) of the Wyoming constitution’s Declaration of Rights, under the header “Right of healthcare access.” The provision was placed on Wyoming’s ballot by state lawmakers and approved by voters in 2012; voters saw ballot language that described the measure as preserving this right “from undue governmental infringement.”

Now these anti-ACA provisions—and their broad affirmations of a right to decide—have turned into an unlikely weapon in progressives’ fight against restrictions on abortion. 

Hawaii House Bill 1179 was introduced in January by 16 Democratic state legislators.

The first section of the legislative text is about as frank and clear as I've ever seen:

The legislature finds that Hawaii has long been a leader in advancing reproductive rights and advocating for access to affordable and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care without discrimination. However, gaps in coverage and care still exist, and Hawaii benefits and protections have been threatened for years by a hostile federal administration that has attempted to restrict and repeal the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and limit access to sexual and reproductive health care. The Trump administration made it increasingly difficult for insurers to cover abortion care and assembled a Supreme Court that restricted abortion access and that may eliminate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the near future.

via Pam Belluck of the New York Times:

For the first time, retail pharmacies, from corner drugstores to major chains like CVS and Walgreens, will be allowed to offer abortion pills in the United States under a regulatory change made Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration. The action could significantly expand access to abortion through medication.

Until now, mifepristone — the first pill used in the two-drug medication abortion regimen — could be dispensed only by a few mail-order pharmacies or by specially certified doctors or clinics. Under the new F.D.A. rules, patients will still need a prescription from a certified health care provider, but any pharmacy that agrees to accept those prescriptions and abide by certain other criteria can dispense the pills in its stores and by mail order.

This would be a pretty big deal anyway, but given the Supreme Court's recent repeal of Roe vs. Wade, it obviously takes on even more significance.

New Jersey

via the NJ Dept. of Banking & Insurance:

TRENTON — Following votes by the boards of both the Individual Health Coverage Program and the Small Employer Health Benefits Program, the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance today announced that requirements for comprehensive abortion coverage among insurers in the individual and small employer markets will take effect for the start of the 2023 plan year on January 1, 2023. 

The department issued a study last month that found a need for regulatory action to require coverage for abortion services without exceptions under health benefits plans regulated by the department. The study was performed as part of the implementation of the historic Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act signed by Governor Phil Murphy earlier this year.  

At the department’s request, the Individual Health Coverage Program and the Small Employer Health Benefits Program boards began the process last month to implement coverage changes and the boards voted unanimously yesterday to formally accept the changes. 

New Jersey

via the NJ Dept. of Banking & Insurance:

Department Releases Study and Begins Rulemaking Process to Require Health Benefit Plans Cover Abortion Services Without Exceptions that Limit Coverage; Requests that Insurers Implement Change for 2023

TRENTON — The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance today announced that it has released a study on access to comprehensive reproductive health care that found a need for regulatory action to require coverage for abortion services under health benefits plans regulated by the department, and has begun the formal rulemaking process to implement the requirement. The department performed this study as part of the implementation of the historic Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act signed by Governor Phil Murphy earlier this year, which codifies the constitutional right to freedom of reproductive choice in New Jersey.  

I didn't write about the Kansas abortion ban amendment vote back in August, but I should have:

Voters in Kansas rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment Tuesday that would have said there was no right to an abortion in the state, according to The Associated Press.

Kansas was the first state to vote on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson's Women's Health Organization.

President Joe Biden hailed Tuesday's vote and called on Congress to pass a law to restore nationwide abortion rights that were provided by Roe.

"This vote makes clear what we know: the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions," Biden said in a statement.

The statewide abortion ban ballot proposal, in a fairly solidly red state, ended up failing by a massive 18 points, with 544,000 voting against it and only 378,00 in favor of it.

And yes, that's literally how the headline is worded in the official press release (via email, no link yet):

Statement by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on House Republicans Introducing Legislation to Rip Away Women’s Access to Contraception and Abortion Medication

Today, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra released the following statement on House Republicans introducing legislation to deny women essential medications:

“Denying women the care they need is un-American—in fact, it’s dangerous. That sums up the latest move in Congress to try to take away women’s access to prescription medication for reproductive health. Under federal law, patients have the right to access the health care they need, free of discrimination. The Biden-Harris Administration will vigorously advance and protect women's rights to essential health care. We won’t hesitate to enforce the law.”

Below is a summary of the actions HHS has taken to ensure access to reproductive health care following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision:

via the White House website:

President Biden will issue an Executive Order on Securing Access to Reproductive and Other Healthcare Services, building on actions that the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to protect access to reproductive healthcare services and defend women’s fundamental rights.  The President kick off the Vice President’s first meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access. At the meeting, the Cabinet will discuss their progress and the path forward to address the women’s health crisis in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

EXECUTIVE ORDER ON SECURING ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE AND OTHER HEALTHCARE SERVICES

Through today’s Executive Order, the President will announce actions to:

Via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:

Today, following President Biden’s Executive Order on ensuring access to reproductive health care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), alongside the Departments of Labor and of the Treasury (Departments), took action to clarify protections for birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA, most private health plans are required to provide birth control and family planning counseling at no additional cost.

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