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New Wisconsin Law essentially Bans Medical Abortions

            A while back, we discussed the use of telemedicine to make non-surgical abortions more readily available to women in rural areas where getting to an abortion facility may be more difficult. The practice is only available in a handful of places and has been proven to be a safe method of abortion care. Patients have an in person examination with a nurse and then an audio/visual exam by a doctor via webcam who would then watch the patient self-administer the medication, i.e.- take a pill.

            In spite of its rarity, and safety, lawmakers all over the U.S.have used it as yet another way to attack abortion rights. Last year at least 5 states banned the procedure and this year Wisconsinis jumping on board. The Wisconsin legislature recently passed the “Coercive and Webcam Abortion Prevention Act” and Governor Walker signed it into law. The title of the law, at least the “coercive” part seems benign, helpful even. Really, no one wants to see women having abortions because they were coerced into by threatening partners or parents. We want women to make the choice for themselves so tackling “coerced abortions” seems like a good idea, but the title of the law is incredibly misleading.

            What the law actually does is require cumbersome procedures for women seeking medication abortions and their doctors. According to RH Reality Check the Wisconsin Medical Society, which usually refrains from commenting on abortion policy, has vocally opposed the law because of the drastic way in which it inserts the desires of the legislature in front of providing safe medical care. The law requires not one, not two but three separate appointments with the same doctor to have an abortion. The woman MUST see the same doctor for her follow up care or the doctor could be fined or even imprisoned. Even though it is perfectly safe and sometimes easier for a woman to see her primary doctor for the follow up care, she is required to see the same doctor who provided her abortion. If she cannot get the time off work or find a babysitter or for whatever reason can’t get back to that doctor, the doctor could go to jail. This is directly punishing doctors for something they have no real control over.

            The new law is so severe that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has decided there is no way for them to continue to offer medication abortions to their patients without risk to their doctors forcing them to stop offering this service. Prior to this approximate ¼ of abortions in the state were done using a medication abortion. Many women prefer this option because it doesn’t require surgery and they appreciate the ability and privacy to pass the pregnancy at home. Thanks to anti-choice politicians, women in Wisconsin will no longer have that choice.

Top Posts of 2011

Welcome to 2012! Since this is our inaugural post of the year we decided to use it to celebrate the growth our blog saw over the course of 2011. So we are sharing our top posts with you all.

First are the top 5 posts by view:

  1. 180 Movie Distributed to High Schools
  2. Critique of a New “Abortion has Negative Mental Side Effects” Study
  3. DeMint Amendment
  4. Kansas Planned Parenthood
  5. Genetic Link to Anorexia

Next we’d like to share our top 5 based on your shares:

  1. 180 Movie Distributed to High Schools
  2. AIDS-Free Generation
  3. DeMint Amendment
  4. VA Trap Laws
  5. Appropriations Bill Passes

Finally, we’d like to share our top 5 favorite post to write, either because we think the topics were important or because they were just fun to write. These are not listed in any particular order.

  1. Randall Terry For President?
  2. This is How to be a Pro-Choice Representative
  3. Sex Ed for Twenty-Somethings
  4. Teen Pregnancy Experiment
  5. Teaching Teens that “Love is Not Abuse”

Thanks to all our readers and commenter’s for helping us grow this past year. If you have any topics you’d like to recommend or any improvements you’d like to see, please feel free to let us know in the comments of this thread. We look forward to bring you more women’s and reproductive health care news through the coming year so stick around!

National HIV Testing Day

                For the past 17 years, the National Association of People Living with AIDS has sponsored National HIV Testing Day on June 27th to encourage people throughout the world to get tested for HIV. According to the CDC around 21% of people in America who are living with HIV are currently unaware. Some people don’t think they are at risk and some are just afraid to know but regardless HIV testing to catch it early is the number way to help stop HIV from progressing to AIDS in a individual person and to help stop the spread of HIV.

                According to a study done in 2008 and published in The Lancet, a 20 year old who is diagnosed with and starts immediate treatment of HIV can expect to live an additional 49 years. Comparatively a person who doesn’t start treatment until they are already diagnosed with full blown AIDS will usually have ten fewer years than someone who started treatment when they had a CD4 count above 200.

                According to an international study done by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases a person who is HIV positive and being treated is 96% LESS likely to pass on the infection. Let me repeat that for emphasis: people who are being treated for HIV/AIDS are 96% less likely to pass on the infection to a partner. Think about this, if treatment reduces transmission by 96% instead of 50,000 new cases each year in the U.S. that number would drop to 2000. If everyone who was HIV positive attained treatment then 48,000 fewer people would contract HIV each year.

                In honor of National HIV Testing Day, many places are offering free tests call 1-800-458-5231 or visit HIVTest.org to find the nearest location. Even if you can’t make it today, a lot of places that offer HIV testing offer it free of charge all year round, so if you are sexually active, forget the excuses and fears and get tested ASAP.

Sources: http://www.aidsmeds.com/articles/hiv_life_exectancy_survival_1667_14989.shtml

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/health/research/13hiv.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=96%20HIV%20antiretroviral&st=cse

http://www.napwa.org

http://www.americanwomensservices.com

Medicaid and Children

A google news search for the term “Medicaid” brings up hundreds of results: Medicaid budget cuts, Medicaid access, Medicaid and Planned Parenthood, Medicaid and Obamacare. Pretty much all of them in some way relate to proposed budget cuts and a loss of money going into the program and the potential impact this has on its beneficiaries. Amid all the furor of budgetary woes there is one issue which is gaining a lot of attention. Children on Medicaid are not getting the same level of care as children with private insurance.

In a study published on June 16th 2011 in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have found a glaring discrepancy in the treatment of children with private insurance versus children who have Medicaid/CHIP insurance. The study was done in Cook county Illinois and included 273 specialty clinics, clinics that focus on specific disciplines as opposed to a standard primary care physician or family practitioner. Two sets of calls were placed to each clinic included in the study, one where the caller posed as the parent of a child on Medicaid/CHIP and one where the caller posed as the parent of a child with private insurance. Seven different moderately severe medical conditions were used as the reason the child needed an appointment with a specialist: Severe itchy rash lasting longer than 7 months, sleep apnea (obstructed breathing during sleep), childhood diabetes, seizures, fractures that could impact bone growth, severe depression and asthma.

Of these 273 clinics only 94 of them granted appointments to children on Medicaid/CHIP versus the 244 that granted appointments to the children with private insurance. Considering there is a federal law requiring equal access is guaranteed to Medicaid recipients these numbers are beyond unbalanced. Of the 94 that granted appointments to Medicaid/CHIP, five of them turned down patients with private insurance leaving 89 that granted appointments to children in both groups. Of these 89 clinics there were significant disparities in the number of days the patients had to wait between calling for the appointment and the appointment date. On average children with Medicaid/CHIP insurance had to wait 42 more days to be seen by the specialist than children with private insurance. The wait was longest to see a specialist for diabetes and shortest to see a specialist about a broken bone in both groups of patients.

The authors of the study try to address possible explanations for why this disparity occurs by referencing previous studies into Medicaid/CHIP recipients. One obvious reason is that Medicaid pays less than private insurance; they also take longer to pay doctors for services rendered and there is more red tape involved with accepting Medicaid. The overall conclusion seems to be that the current system makes accepting Medicaid less lucrative while requiring more work than private insurance.  

What our state and federal governments needs to address is how to fix the system so all children have equal access to health care that is vital to long term health. During these budget talks it is vital that our politicians realize the impact their decisions will have on the health of children who already aren’t getting the health care they need and deserve.

Sources:  Bisgaier, J, & Rhodes, K. (2011). Auditing access to specialty care for children with public insurance. The New England Journal of Medicine, 364(24), Retrieved from http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMsa1013285

PA’s Harsh Stand Limits Access to Abortion Clinics

In the uproar after the discovery of the Gosnell atrocities, the members of Pennsylvania’s government decided to create new legislation to “protect” women getting abortions. In theory this is a good thing; women getting abortions deserve to be treated by caring doctors in safe facilities. No one could argue otherwise. What these bills would do in real life is very different than what they would do in theory.

First on the table was SB 574, which originated in the house. This bill adds stringent new requirements that all abortion clinics would have to meet in order to remain in business.  These new requirements would include larger rooms, new heating and air conditioning equipments, as well as hospital quality elevators. In essence they will be held to the same standards as an ambulatory surgical center. This bill has been passed in the house and was sent to the state senate back in May.

The senate has a bill of its own to focus on though. SB 732 is a bill proposed to the state senate which in its original form added new restrictions to abortion clinics including tougher inspection and licensing standards, including yearly random inspections of all facilities. The original bill while tough is not unreasonable and will help ensure women are treated in a safe environment. On June 8th, 2011 an amendment was added to this bill that essentially makes it the equal of SB 574. Clinics that want to be able to perform abortions occurring after 9 weeks would still need to renovate their facilities to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. This amendment does allow for abortion under 9 weeks continue in the facilities already in use. This bill with its amendment is set to be voted on sometime during the week of June 13th.

These regulations would in no way help protect the health and safety of women and would actually have the opposite effect. Most of the abortion clinics in the state do not currently meet these requirements and would either have to increase the cost of their services to cover the cost of renovation or close entirely. Neither of these consequences have benefits for women; it will only make it more difficult for women to get an abortion by making them unaffordable and geographically inaccessible. This increases the likelihood that women will try to self induce abortions or go to unsafe, disreputable doctors both of which can lead to serious complications and risks the women’s health and well-being.

To contact your local legislative representatives and tell them you want safe facilities; not non-existent facilities go to http://www.legis.state.pa.us/index.cfm

Sources:  Hoover, Andy. (2011, May 22). Retrieved from http://www.aclupa.org/downloads/memoSB732SenateMay11.pdf

American Women’s Services http://www.americanwomensservices.com/

Check Out Our Mention in this Article!!

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2011/06/10/happy-abortioncatholic-womans-guiltfree-story