Daily Dispatches
Abortion protesters outside a Planned Parenthood facility in San Antonio
Associate Press/Photo by Eric Gay
Abortion protesters outside a Planned Parenthood facility in San Antonio

Vital Signs: Abortion appeals climb steps in court system

Abortion

Court action. Abortion providers filed a petition April 10 requesting the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its March 27 decision to uphold new abortion laws in Texas. The challenged laws require abortion facilities to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital and to adhere to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protocol for administering abortion-inducing drugs. The petitioners argue that other state courts have blocked similar laws, The Texas Tribune reported. At least 19 clinics have shut down since the new law was approved, leaving about 24 still open.

Meanwhile, in New York City, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on April 7 granted a stay on laws regulating crisis pregnancy center ads pending an appeal the Supreme Court.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) represents the two non-profit organizations that operate the crisis pregnancy centers. The law requires pregnancy centers to disclose that they don’t offer referrals for contraceptives and abortions and to state whether they have a licensed medical professional on staff. Under the law, the centers must provide the disclosures in English and Spanish on all signs posted in their entrances or waiting areas, and in conversations discussing abortion, prenatal care, or contraception.

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ACLJ argues the regulations violate First Amendment rights by limiting pregnancy centers’ ability to advertise. One circuit judge wrote in his opinion, “Local Law 17...[provides] a blank check to New York City officials to harass or threaten legitimate activity.”

Funding Planned Parenthood. A Methodist healthcare organization in Texas has donated $443,750 to Planned Parenthood of South Texas. Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas (MHM) donated the funds as a part of its 2014 grants program which makes up about 34 percent of the non-profit’s spending. MHM also owns half of the Methodist Healthcare System, the largest healthcare system in South Texas. Planned Parenthood of South Texas operates eight abortion facilities in San Antonio, Harlingen, and Brownsville. This isn’t the first year MHM has donated to a Planned Parenthood affiliate. According to a 2011 NSIDE San Antonio article, MHM previously provided funding for Planned Parenthood of San Antonio.

States update. During the last week of March, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence approved a bill that limits insurance coverage for abortions. Mirroring legislation composed by Americans United for Life (AUL), the law prevents most abortion coverage in insurance policies except through separate riders. The law allows exceptions for cases involving rape, incest, or threats to the mother’s life.

In Alabama, the state legislature passed two pro-life bills just before the legislative session ended April 1. One bill extends the waiting period from 24 hours to 48 hours after a woman receives information from an abortion clinic about the risks of abortion, gestational development, and abortion alternatives. The other bill requires signed parental consent for minors to get abortions. Minors seeking abortions without parental consent need to prove through court documentation that they have legally been removed from their parents’ guardianship.

The Arizona legislature approved a bill April 9 that allows surprise inspections of abortion facilities without a search warrant. Majority Republicans said the change is needed to ensure abortion facilities can be inspected without delays. Democrats argued that the law would open facilities to harassment and could lead to lawsuits, but bill Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, said abortion facilities are the only healthcare institutions in the state that are not subject to unannounced inspections.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Courtney Crandell
Courtney Crandell

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