http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/13/protect-life-act-passes-house-of-representatives_n_1009876.html?ref=fb&src=sp

 

WASHINGTON — After an emotional floor debate, the House of Representatives on Thursday passed theso-called Protect Life Act, which prohibits women from buying health insurance plans that cover abortion under the Affordable Care Act and makes it legal for hospitals to deny abortions to pregnant women with life-threatening conditions.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), a proponent of the bill, told voters last week that its purpose is “to ensure that no taxpayer dollars flow to health care plans that cover abortion and no health care worker has to participate in abortions against their will.”
In fact, the Affordable Care Act already keeps public dollars separate from the private insurance payments that cover abortion. A federal judge ruled in August that the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List had to stop making the claim on its website that “Obamacare” subsidizes abortions because the assertion is false.
“The express language of the [Affordable Care Act] does not provide for taxpayer-funded abortion,” the opinion states. “That is a fact, and it is clear on its face.”
H.R. 358, introduced by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), goes beyond the issue of taxpayer dollars to place actual limits on the way a woman spends her own money. The bill would prevent a woman from buying a private insurance plan that includes abortion coverage through a state health care exchange, even though most insurance plans currently cover abortion.
An even more controversial aspect of the bill would allow hospitals that are morally opposed to abortion, such as Catholic institutions, to do nothing for a woman who requires an emergency abortion procedure to save her life. Current law requires that hospitals give patients in life-threatening situations whatever care they need, regardless of the patient’s financial situation, but the Protect Life Act would make a hospital’s obligation to provide care in medical emergencies secondary to its refusal to provide abortions.
“Congress has passed refusal laws before, but it’s never blatantly tried to override emergency care protections,” said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’ve heard proponents of this bill say that women don’t need emergency abortion care, but that is really just willful blindness to the facts.”
According to the American Journal of Public Health, Catholic hospitals already have a years-long history of ignoring the emergency care law to avoid performing abortions. In late 2009, an Arizona bishop excommunicated a nun who authorized an abortion procedure for a woman who otherwise might have died of pulmonary hypertension at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said she personally faced a situation in which an abortion was medically necessary.
“I was pregnant, I was miscarrying, I was bleeding,” she said on the House floor Thursday. “If I had to go from one hospital to the next trying to find one emergency room that would take me in, who knows if I would even be here today. What my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are trying to do is misogynist.”
Despite a strong showing in the House, the bill is unlikely to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the White House said on Wednesday that President Barack Obama will veto the legislation if it ever reaches his desk.
“The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 358 because … the legislation intrudes on women’s reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restricts the private insurance choices that women and their families have today,” the White House said in a statement.

Concern about termination services is rising, with fewer doctors willing to perform the procedure, DoH says

Denis Campbell, health correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Monday 18 July 2011 23.30 BST
A survey of medical students has found that almost half believe doctors should be allowed to refuse to perform any procedure to which they object. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Pregnant women could find it harder in future to obtain an abortion because of the growing number of doctors who are opposed to carrying out terminations.

A survey of medical students has found that almost half believe doctors should be allowed to refuse to perform any procedure to which they object on moral, cultural or religious grounds, such as prescribing contraception or treating someone who is drunk or high on drugs.

Abortion provoked the strongest feelings among the 733 medical students surveyed, according to the study in the Journal of Medical Ethics. “The survey revealed that almost a third of students would not perform an abortion for a congenitally malformed foetus after 24 weeks, a quarter would not perform an abortion for failed contraception before 24 weeks and a fifth would not perform an abortion on a minor who was the victim of rape,” said researcher Dr Sophie Strickland.

“In light of increasing demand for abortions, these results may have implications for women’s access to abortion services in the future,” she added.

Concern about termination services is rising, with fewer doctors willing to perform the procedure, according to the Department of Health. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has voiced concern about the “slow but growing problem of trainees opting out of training in the termination of pregnancy and is therefore concerned about the abortion service of the future”.

Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said: “Abortion is taught increasingly infrequently in medical school, and students may not be required to engage much with the reasons why a woman may find herself with an unwanted pregnancy and the distress this may cause. All of us involved in women’s reproductive healthcare need to ensure that young doctors understand why women need abortions, and that this is a profession to be proud of.”

Some 45.2% of those surveyed believed doctors should have the right to refuse to treat someone when doing so clashed with their personal beliefs, but 40.6% disagreed. “Once qualified as doctors, if all these respondents acted on their conscience and refused to perform certain procedures, it may become impossible for conscientious objectors to be accommodated in medicine,” said Strickland.

Backing for a doctor’s right to refuse to perform any procedure was highest among Muslim medical students, at 76.2%. Some 54.5% of Jewish students also thought doctors should have the right to refuse, as did 51.2% of Protestants and 46.3% of Catholics.

Guidance drawn up by the General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates doctors, advises doctors to refer a patient to a colleague if they object to a certain procedure or treatment.

“However, we also make clear that doctors have an overriding duty to provide care for patients who are in need of medical treatment, whatever the cause of that medical need. It is not acceptable to opt out of treating a particular patient or group of patients because of personal beliefs or views about them, for example if they misuse drugs or alcohol,” said Dr Peter Rubin, the GMC’s chair.

The British Medical Association said that while doctors and medical students can refuse to participate in treatments they are uncomfortable with, patients must not be harmed or affected by their decision. They must also give patients enough information so they can seek treatment elsewhere within the NHS, according to a spokesman for the doctors’ union’s medical ethics committee.

The Department of Health said: “Patients’ clinical needs always come first, and practising doctors understand this. It is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief and the law does not entitle people to apply such beliefs in a way which impinges upon other people, even if they claim that their religion or belief requires them to act in this way.

“All patients have a right to a comprehensive and fair NHS. The NHS constitution, white paper and the Equality Act provide the legal framework and principles that underpin the way the NHS should provide its services and support its staff.”

Why Poland’s Proposed Abortion Ban is a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme for the Medical Establishment and a Death Sentence for Women

Description: Author image

by Katarzyna Pabijanek

July 11, 2011 – 11:08am

Description: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/files/imagecache/Teaser-Image/teaser-images/poland_abortion_0330.jpg


July 7, 2011. (Romereports.com) A proposal that would ban all abortions in Poland has been sent by Parliament to committee for consideration. Under current law, abortion is legal if there are serious fetal anomalies or in cases of endangerment to the life or health of the mother. In reality, legal abortion even under these circumstances is inaccessible. There is, however, a huge black market in abortion in Poland and the medical establishment earns nearly $100 million annually off the books providing unsafe abortion.

On June 30th, the Polish Parliament debated a bill that would totally ban abortion in Poland, even if a woman’s life were in danger. The left-wing party put forward a proposal to reject the bill during the first reading but the other political parties demanded the bill be referred to committee for consideration, and their proposal won by a vote of 261 to 155.. The committee will present a report on the bill to Parliament by early September. The draft bill, named “On the protection of human life from the moment of conception” – was initially submitted to Parliament in April 2011. The draft was prepared by the Committee of Legislative Initiative led by Mariusz Dzierzawski, a fanatic opponent of abortion, known as an organizer of the macabre anti-abortion exhibitions held in the Polish cities.

Poland’s abortion law is one of the most restrictive in Europe and even more restrictive in practice than on paper. Although the law allows termination of pregnancy under three conditions – including for therapeutic reasons and when it results from a criminal act – legal abortion is actually not accessible even for women whose conditions fall under the exceptions. According to the annual report on implementation of the current abortion law (“Law on family planning, protection of the human fetus and conditions for legal abortion”) there are approximately 500 (out of ten million women of reproductive age) legal pregnancy terminations a year.

The legal principles are applied with great rigidity and there is widespread abuse of conscience clauses among doctors and entire institutions intended to deny women legal abortion.   According to Polish law, physicians can refuse to perform abortion or dispense contraceptives on the grounds of conscientious objection. The conscientious objection clause and the way it is exercised in Poland have become a significant barrier to accessing services to which women are entitled by law.  It also happens quite often in Poland that conscientious objection is ”practiced” by the entire hospital, not by individual doctors, which opposes the individuality-based concept of the conscience clause. The recent anti-choice initiative call on the pharmacists to refuse to sell the contraceptives in pharmacies, and was inspired by the Council of Europe’s recent unfortunate resolution “The right to conscientious objection clause in the legal care”.

One case that upset much of the general public concerned a visually-impaired Polish woman, who was denied an abortion on health grounds, even though medical diagnoses confirmed that continuing her pregnancy could further severely damage her vision, thereby constituting a risk to her health.

Meanwhile the criminalization of abortion in Poland has led to the development of a vast illegal private sector with no controls on price, quality of care or accountability. Clandestine abortions generate up to $95 million a year for Polish doctors as women turn to the illegal private sector to terminate pregnancies. Since abortion became illegal in the late 1980s the number of abortions carried out in hospitals has fallen by 99 percent. The private trade in abortions is, however, flourishing, with abortion providers advertising openly in newspapers. The biggest losers are the least privileged: in 2009 the cost of a surgical abortion in Poland was greater than the average monthly income of a Polish citizen. Low-income groups are less able to protest against discrimination due to lack of political influence. Better-off women can pay for abortions generating millions in unregistered, tax-free income for doctors. Some women seek safe, legal abortions abroad in countries such as the UK, the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Germany.

The newest law proposal is being debated by the Parliament, and the report is to be presented in early September. The leftist Democratic Left Alliance Party presented another bill calling for liberalization of abortion. However, the progressive bill will not be discussed by the Parliament during its current term. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for October and it is becoming obvious that abortion will be the main coin used to gain voters. Pro-choice groups are currently forming an initiative to push for a liberal bill introducing refundable legal abortion till the 12th week of pregnancy, funding for contraceptives and sexual education in schools.

Poland is currently presiding over the council of the European Union, and the failure to reject this very restrictive bill on the very first day of the Presidency of the EU Council is a worrying signal to the international community. Polish groups have initiated a campaign calling on supporters to send a letter to the Prime Minister of Poland.

The letter is available at ASTRA’s website [21] and copied below.  We encourage you to send your letter opposing this law to Prime Minister Donald Tusk, donald.tusk@sejm.pl [22].  We also ask that you send a cc: federa@astra.org.pl [23].

Sample letter:

Your Excellency, I write to express my concern that the draft text for the new bill on abortion: “The law on changing the Law on family planning, protection of the human fetus and conditions for legal abortion” – to be discussed by the Parliament’s Committee by the 1st of September – contains provisions on that will result in violations of women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health. The international human rights standard is to liberalize abortion laws to make it safe and accessible to women and thereby lessen maternal mortality related to unsafe abortion. The language used in the draft of the new bill regarding the right to life does not correspond to that used in international and European human rights instruments – to which Poland is also party – as it unconditionally prohibits abortion, thereby leading not to lessening the number of women inducing abortion but only makes it dangerous for women who will undergo clandestine and unsafe abortion. Passing the bill will increase maternal mortality, abortion-related injuries and deaths are likely to be especially high among poor women, who can’t afford to travel abroad. As a result, many of them might try self-induced abortions. It is unacceptable that in the 21st Century, a European country includes in its legislation a provision which directly endangers women’s lives. I trust that you will do your best to ensure that Poland considers reviewing its legislation regarding abortion in a forward-looking legislation, taking the lead in promoting women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Sincerely yours,

THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2011 14:02 ET

Abortion saved my life

I almost died in an emergency room because the doctor on call refused to perform a necessary procedure

A version of this piece originally appeared on Mikki Kendall’s blog.

There’s this lawmaker out of Kansas, Rep. Peter DeGraaf, who has a lot to say about abortion. He’s currently best known for saying that women should plan ahead in case of rape and not expect their regular insurance to cover an abortion after an assault. And I could spend a lot of time discussing the flaws in his logic, or even hashing out when life begins, but what I’m really concerned about is the idea that anyone besides a pregnant woman should have a say in what she does with her body after finding out she’s pregnant.

I’m a mom, and I love my sons more than anything. And it is because I love them that I had an abortion at 20 weeks. It was my fifth pregnancy (I’d had two earlier miscarriages), and, as it turned out, my last. There was trouble from the beginning; I didn’t experience any of the normal indicators of pregnancy, so I was already ten weeks along when I found out. I hadn’t so much as missed a period; in fact, I was seeing an OB/GYN because of the increased heaviness in my cycle. When we found out, I talked it over with my husband and we debated an abortion before deciding we’d try to make it work. My doctor told me that my pregnancy was very high risk and that she wasn’t sure of a good outcome. Per her instructions, I took it very easy because I wanted to give the baby the best possible chance. But I kept having intermittent bleeding and I knew there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to carry to term.

I was taking an afternoon nap when the hemorrhaging started while my toddler napped in his room when I woke up to find blood gushing upward from my body. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was experiencing a placental abruption, a complication my doctor had told me was a possibility. My husband was at work, so I had to do my best to take care of me and my toddler on my own. I managed to get to the phone and make arrangements for both of my children before going to a Chicago hospital.

Everyone knew the pregnancy wasn’t viable, that it couldn’t be viable given the amount of blood I was losing, but it still took hours for anyone at the hospital to do anything. The doctor on call didn’t do abortions. At all. Ever. In fact, no one on call that night did. Meanwhile, an ignorant batch of medical students had gathered to study me — one actually showed me the ultrasound of our dying child while asking me if it was a planned pregnancy. Several wanted to examine me while I lay there bleeding and in pain. No one gave me anything for the pain or even respected my request to close the door even though I was on the labor and delivery floor listening to other women have healthy babies as the baby I had been trying to save died in my womb.

A very kind nurse risked her job to call a doctor from the Reproductive Health Clinic who was not on call, and asked her to come in to save my life. Fortunately she was home, and got there relatively quickly. By the time she arrived, I was in bad shape. The blood loss had rendered me nearly incoherent, but she still moved me to a different wing and got me the painkillers no one else had during the screaming hours I’d spent in the hospital. After she checked my lab tests, she told us I would need two bags of blood before she could perform the procedure. Her team (a cadre of wonderful students who should all go on to run their own clinics) took turns checking on me and my husband. They all kept assuring me that soon it would be over, and I would feel much better. My husband had to sign the consent for surgery (I was clearly not competent enough to make decisions), and they took me away along with a third bag of blood to be administered during the procedure.

Later I found out that the doctor had taken my husband aside as they brought me into surgery. She promised him she would do her best to save me, but she warned him there was a distinct possibility that she would fail. The doctor who didn’t do abortions was supposed to have contacted her (or someone else who would perform the procedure) immediately. He didn’t. Neither did his students. Supposedly there was a communication breakdown and they thought she had been notified, but I doubt it. I don’t know if his objections were religious or not; all I know is that when a bleeding woman was brought to him for treatment he refused to do the only thing that could stop the bleeding. Because he didn’t do abortions. Ever.

My two kids at home almost lost their mother because someone decided that my life was worth less than that of a fetus that was going to die anyway. My husband had told them exactly what my regular doctor said, and the ER doctor had already warned us what would have to happen. Yet none of this mattered when confronted by the idea that no one needs an abortion. You shouldn’t need to know the details of why a woman aborts to trust her to make the best decision for herself. I don’t regret my abortion, but I would also never use my situation to suggest that the only time another woman should have the procedure is when her life is at stake. After my family found out I’d had an abortion, I got a phone call from a cousin who felt the need to tell me I was wrong to have interfered with God’s plan. And in that moment I understood exactly what kind of people judge a woman’s reproductive choices.

The Human Life International Poland and the Human Life’s Friends Club on 17th of February called for signing a petition concerning the right of the Polish pharmacists to refuse to sell the contraceptives in pharmacies. The HLI Poland has created a special website where a support for the right of pharmacists to refuse to sell the contraceptives, called by HLI Poland “miscarriage pills”, can be expressed. This wording illustrates best how scarce is the knowledge about contraception in Poland , even among health professionals. Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning hot line operators report the lack of information and knowledge regarding difference between contraceptives, emergency contraception drugs and abortifacients. According to current regulations, pharmacies are obliged to sell all the drugs registered in the national drug registry. The anti-choice initiative is based on the resolution “The right to conscientious objection clause in the legal care” adopted by the Council of Europe last year and claims that pharmacists, as health care professionals, also have a right to use a conscientious objection.

Source: Federation for Women and Family Planning at www.federa.org.pl

 

EP President considers MEP question concerning women rights to abortion inadmissible. Using in an arbitrary manner the rules of procedure of European Parliament, the President Buzek deemed inadmissible the question of SYRIZA (GUE/NGL) Member of Parliament Mr. N. Chountis, referring to the resolution of the Council of Europe on abortion. At 7th of October 2010 the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe adopted a resolution titled “the right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care” (1763/2010). In this resolution is mentioned “No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia or any act which could cause the death of a human fetus or embryo, for any reason.” The MEP questioned about what is the Commissions position in relation to the mentioned resolution and he asked which measures will the Commission take in order to prevent the prevalence of extreme conservative views on the pretext of freedom of conscience are trying to restrict the women rights. The question was deemed inadmissible by the Polish Christian Democrat President of the European Parliament, Mr Buzek. This incident adds to our concerns with the deteriorating situation for SRHR in the European Parliament. ASTRA Network believes that Mr Buzek’s behaviour represents dangerous signal regarding SRHR across the EU.

Source: GUE

More:http://newsportal.european-left.org/nc/english/newshome/news_archive/news_archive/zurueck/news-archive-3/artikel/ep-president-considers-mep-question-concerning-women-rights-to-abortion-inadmissible-1/

 

The rationale behind the draft of the resolution was to regulate the use of conscientious objection by reproductive healthcare providers. The resolution did not pass as proposed and its provisions were severely diluted by a number of harmful anti-abortion amendments. As a result, instead of offering a set of comprehensive guidelines from a regional or international body on how governments must balance a woman’s right to reproductive health and autonomy with an individual’s right to conscientious objection, the adopted resolution: (1) fails to oblige health care institutions to provide legal health services to the public; (2) enables both doctors and institutions to refuse emergency care without being held liable; (3) is based on the false assumption that the practice of conscientious objection is adequately regulated in the vast majority of Council of Europe member states.

 

“25 organizations-members of ASTRA Network supported by Action Canada for Population and Development (Canada), Association for Women’s Rights in Development, Catholics for Choice (USA), Center for Reproductive Rights, Family Planning Association (Ireland), French Family Planning Movement (France), International Women’s Health Coalition, IPAS, Sensoa (Belgium), Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (Sweden) expressed deep concern with the result of voting on the resolution “Women’s access to lawful medical care: the problem of unregulated use of conscientious objection” that took place during the 35th sitting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in a letter sent to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mr Mevlüt Çavusoğlu.

read the full letter here:

 

http://www.astra.org.pl/astraletter.pdf