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Life briefs

"Life briefs" Continued...

Issue: "Babies are back," Jan. 29, 2011

Long-distance abortions

A woman can now get an abortion from a doctor who is miles away-a practice that some pro-life legislators are trying to halt this year. In Iowa, doctors are consulting with pregnant women via videoconferencing technology and then dispensing abortion drugs without examining the patient in person. Joe DeCook, vice president and director of operations at the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called it "abysmal health care" and noted that an abortion can have potentially life-threatening consequences if something goes wrong. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in September that two more women died after taking RU-486, bringing the number of American deaths to eight. Pro-life legislators in both Iowa and Nebraska are introducing legislation to ban the telemedicine abortion practice this year, and the Iowa Board of Medicine has the practice under review.

Death consultants

According to a Medicare rule that went into effect Jan. 1, the federal government will now pay doctors for end-of-life consultations in the Medicare "annual wellness visit"-a change that is similar to the provision in healthcare reform legislation that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin dubbed "death panels." Palin and other pro-life advocates feared that the original provision-removed from the final bill-would lead to bureaucrats rationing healthcare. The original provision would have provided for the end-of-life consultations every five years, but the new rule will pay doctors for the consultations annually.

Court rulings

• May: An Illinois County Court rules that a lawsuit challenging a Planned Parenthood mega-center for violating city zoning laws may proceed.

• August: In Louisiana, a U.S. District judge lifts a temporary restraining order against a Louisiana law that would allow a woman to see an ultrasound of her child before getting an abortion.

• August: Federal court rules against a California elementary school that disciplined a sixth-grade student for wearing a pro-life T-shirt.

• August: Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issues a legal opinion saying that Virginia can regulate abortion clinics as it can other outpatient surgical facilities.

• October: The Kansas Supreme Court rules that a 107-count criminal case against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri may proceed.

• December: An Ohio judge rules that Planned Parenthood breached its duties by failing to follow informed-consent laws in the case of a 14-year-old girl seeking abortion.

• December: An Alaska Superior Court rules that Alaska's parental notification law, approved by a voter referendum, can stand.

Pro-life laws

• Arizona: Strengthens abortion reporting requirements; bans or limits abortion coverage in state exchange and state employee plan; abolishes state funding for abortion except for cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is in danger.

• Idaho: Strengthens conscience protections for those refusing to perform abortions.

• Louisiana: Bans or limits abortion coverage in state exchange; provider must offer to show ultrasound description and picture; state can close abortion clinic for any violation of state or federal law; excludes late-term abortionists from medical malpractice protections.

• Mississippi: Bans or limits abortion coverage in state exchange.

• Missouri: Limits abortion coverage in state exchange; requires counseling on fetal pain and abortion coercion; requires abortion provider to say abortion ends life and to offer an ultrasound before abortion.

• Nebraska: Bans abortion after 20 weeks' gestation when unborn child feels pain; requires counseling about abortion risks.

• Oklahoma: Limits medication abortions to physicians; prohibits a woman from suing if she continues a pregnancy because doctor does not inform her of her child's disability; strengthens abortion reporting requirements; bans abortion based on gender of fetus; abortion provider must show and describe ultrasound image to woman; requires clinics to post notices saying woman can't be coerced into abortion.

• South Carolina: Bans or limits abortion in coverage of state employees; requires 24-hour waiting period before abortion; strengthens conscience provisions.

• Tennessee: Bans or limits abortion coverage in state exchange; requires clinics to post notices about abortion coercion; establishes enhanced penalty for murdering pregnant woman.

• Utah: Prohibits self-induced abortion; requires abortion providers to display an ultrasound image if they perform an ultrasound.

• Virginia: Prohibits state funding except in cases of endangerment, rape, and incest.

• West Virginia: Requires providers to offer to display and describe an ultrasound image if they perform an ultrasound.

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