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State Considers Amendment to Protect Human Life at Any Stage of Development, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 30, 2014)

November 3, 2014 Comments off

State Considers Amendment to Protect Human Life at Any Stage of Development, CRS Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Next week, voters in North Dakota will consider a proposal that would amend the state constitution to address the right to life. If adopted, the North Dakota constitution would state: “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” The amendment was proposed by state Senator Margaret Sitte, who has indicated that the amendment “is intended to present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.” Whether such an amendment would have an impact on a woman’s ability to terminate a pregnancy, however, is not certain. Similar federal legislation that would recognize the right to life for the unborn has been criticized by legal scholars who have maintained that Congress cannot displace the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

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New From the GAO

September 17, 2014 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. 8(a) Subcontracting Limitations: Continued Noncompliance with Monitoring Requirements Signals Need for Regulatory Change. GAO-14-706, September 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-706
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665828.pdf

2. Health Insurance Exchanges: Coverage of Non-excepted Abortion Services by Qualified Health Plans. GAO-14-742R, September 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-742R

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1. Land-Use Agreements: Department of Veterans Affairs Needs to Improve Data Reliability and Monitoring. GAO-14-501, August 18.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-501
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665331.pdf

2. Healthcare.gov: Actions Needed to Address Weaknesses in Information Security and Privacy Controls. GAO-14-730, September 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-730
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665841.pdf

3. Broadcast Television and Radio: Disclosure Requirements for Broadcasted Content. GAO-14-738, September 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-738
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665859.pdf

Statement for the Record

1. Individual Retirement Accounts: Preliminary Information on IRA Balances Accumulated as of 2011, by James R. McTigue, director, strategic issues, and Charles A. Jeszeck, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, to the Senate Committee on Finance. GAO-14-878T, September 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-878T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665805.pdf

Testimony

1. Financial Stability Oversight Council: Status of Efforts to Improve Transparency, Accountability, and Collaboration, by A. Nicole Clowers, director, financial markets and community investment team, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Financial Services. GAO-14-873T, September 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-873T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665852.pdf

The Cost of Abortion, When Providers Offer Services, and Harassment of Abortion Providers All Remained Stable Between 2008 And 2012

July 18, 2014 Comments off

The Cost of Abortion, When Providers Offer Services, and Harassment of Abortion Providers All Remained Stable Between 2008 And 2012
Source: Guttmacher Institute

Access to abortion services is affected by a variety of factors, including the cost of the procedure, the gestational age limits at which providers offer services and antiabortion harassment. According to “Secondary Measures of Access to Abortion Services in the U.S., 2011-2012: Gestational Age Limits, Cost and Harassment,” by Jenna Jerman and Rachel Jones of the Guttmacher Institute, there was relatively little change in any of these measures between 2008 and 2011–2012. The new analysis relies on data from the Institute’s 16th census of all known abortion providers in the United States.

In 2011–2012, the median cost of a surgical abortion at 10 weeks’ gestation was $495, and an early medication abortion cost $500. By comparison, the inflation-adjusted charge in 2009 for the same procedures was $503 and $524, respectively. The cost varied by facility size: facilities with the largest caseloads charged the least ($450), while those that performed fewer than 30 procedures per year charged the most ($650). Because women were more likely to obtain abortions at facilities that charged less, on average, women paid $480 for a surgical procedure at 10 weeks in 2011–2012, compared with $483 in 2009 (adjusted for inflation).

Debate on Ways to Reduce U.S. Abortion Rate Intensifies Even as Abortion Rate Continues to Decline

June 18, 2014 Comments off

Debate on Ways to Reduce U.S. Abortion Rate Intensifies Even as Abortion Rate Continues to Decline
Source: Guttmacher Institute

A new Guttmacher policy analysis notes that, paradoxically, the sharp divide over the means to make abortion rare has only grown more pronounced even as the U.S. abortion rate in 2011 reached its lowest level since 1973. The debate centers on whether the United States should strive to reduce abortion at all costs, or focus instead on reducing the need for it.

“The rival policy approaches of the antiabortion and prochoice movements have become mutually exclusive,” says Joerg Dreweke, author of the analysis. “Antiabortion activists, starting in 2011, have enacted an unprecedented wave of coercive state laws that will likely force growing numbers of women to give birth rather than end an unwanted pregnancy. By contrast, reproductive health advocates back policies like the Affordable Care Act that expand access to contraceptive services to help women prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place, along with the abortions that often follow.”

The analysis details the opposing explanations of why the U.S. abortion rate declined 13% between 2008 and 2011. Antiabortion activists argued that state-level abortion restrictions were responsible and dismissed the idea of contraception playing a role. However, not only did the abortion decline mostly predate the wave of new abortion restrictions, but it was also accompanied by a steep drop in the birthrate, indicating that pregnancy was down overall. This leads to the conclusion that improved contraceptive use, including use of highly effective methods like the IUD and implant, was likely the main driver of the abortion decline by helping to reduce women’s need for the service.

CRS — Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response (updated)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Abortion: Judicial History and Legislative Response (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy. In Doe v. Bolton, a companion decision, the Court found that a state may not unduly burden the exercise of that fundamental right with regulations that prohibit or substantially limit access to the means of effectuating the decision to have an abortion. Rather than settle the issue, the Court’s rulings since Roe and Doe have continued to generate debate and have precipitated a variety of governmental actions at the national, state, and local levels designed either to nullify the rulings or limit their effect. These governmental regulations have, in turn, spawned further litigation in which resulting judicial refinements in the law have been no more successful in dampening the controversy.

State Policy Trends: More Supportive Legislation, Even As Attacks on Abortion Rights Continue

April 10, 2014 Comments off

State Policy Trends: More Supportive Legislation, Even As Attacks on Abortion Rights Continue
Source: Guttmacher Institute

The 2014 legislative session got off to a fast start, with legislators introducing a combined 733 provisions related to sexual and reproductive health and rights in nearly all the states that have legislative sessions this year (legislatures in Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas will not meet in 2014). See here for the full analysis of the first quarter of 2014.

Significantly, legislators quickly showed a clear interest in protecting or expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care. Some 64 provisions have been introduced so far this year to expand or protect access to abortion, more than had been introduced in any year in the last quarter century. And only three months into the year, two new provisions protecting abortion rights have been enacted, and three others have passed one legislative chamber. Similarly, seven measures designed to expand access to other sexual and reproductive health services have passed at least one legislative body in six states and the District of Columbia.

As in recent years, however, state legislatures continued to take aim at abortion rights. Legislators in 38 states introduced 303 provisions seeking to limit women’s access to care. By March 31, three new abortion restrictions had been enacted, and 36 had passed one legislative chamber.

Abortion Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act: The Laws Tell Only Half the Story

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Abortion Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act: The Laws Tell Only Half the Story
Source: Guttamacher Institute
From press release:

Consumers purchasing health coverage through the marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have no easy way—and often no way at all—to find out whether a health plan covers abortion care, according to a new Guttmacher analysis. The analysis lays out how this lack of transparency can be addressed by the Obama administration, which has the authority to ensure health plan issuers make such information readily available to consumers nationwide.

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