GOP Governors’ Attacks on Women’s Health

June 18, 2013

MEMORANDUM

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: Lis Smith, DGA Adviser

DATE: June 18, 2013

Re: GOP Governors’ Attacks on Women’s Health

 

Today, House Republicans are poised to vote for an extreme ban on abortions after 22 weeks. But, with a Democratic president and Senate, House Republicans’ efforts will be in vain.

 

Unfortunately for American women, the debate in the states—particularly those with Republican governors—isn’t just about political posturing. Whether it’s in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, New Jersey, or one of several other GOP-helmed states, a woman’s right to make critical decisions about her own health is being taken away at a disturbing rate.

 

In the last two years alone, Republican governors have signed into law measures that would i) criminalize abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy ii) force women to receive invasive and medically unnecessary ultrasounds before receiving an abortion iii) allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraception and iv) defund or cut funding to Planned Parenthood and family planning clinics that many women rely on for primary care. What’s worse is that these actions come after years of successful efforts to rollback women’s health care rights in other Republican-led states.

 

The debate in Washington, D.C. today makes Congressional leadership look tone deaf and completely out of touch with the American people. But, unlike the actions of Republican governors, it won’t make a single difference in the lives of American women.

 

That’s why the states are ground zero in the fight to protect women’s health. And it’s why the Democratic Governors Association will communicate frequently with voters in targeted states about the misguided and dangerous priorities of Republican governors and their extreme anti-women’s health agendas.

 

More information on Republican governors’ efforts to rollback women’s health is below.

 

NORTH DAKOTA

 

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple Signed “Nation’s Toughest” Abortion Restrictions, Designed To “Discover The Boundaries Of Roe v. Wade.” “North Dakota’s governor positioned the oil-rich state Tuesday as a primary battleground in the decades-old fight over abortion rights, signing into law the nation’s toughest restriction on the procedure and urging lawmakers to set aside cash for an inevitable legal challenge. Minutes after Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed three anti-abortion measures – one banning them when a heartbeat can be detected, which is as early as six weeks into a pregnancy – unsolicited donations began pouring into the state’s lone abortion clinic to help opponents prove the new laws are unconstitutional. ‘Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade,’ Dalrymple said in a statement, referring to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion up to until a fetus is considered viable – usually at 22 to 24 weeks.” [Associated Press, 3/26/13]

 

KANSAS

 

Gov. Sam Brownback Signed “Sweeping Anti-Abortion Legislation” Declaring That Life Begins “At Fertilization.” “Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed sweeping anti-abortion legislation Friday, giving his state a new law to block tax breaks for abortion providers, ban sex-selection abortions and declare that life begins “at fertilization. Many provisions take effect in July, though the tax changes will be effective for 2014. The measure cleared the Republican-dominated Legislature by wide margins earlier this month.” [Associated Press, 4/20/13]

 

Brownback Signed Legislation Allowing Pharmacists To Refuse Dispensing Drugs They “Reasonably Believe” May Cause Abortion. “Gov. Sam Brownback has signed into law a bill that will allow pharmacists to refuse to provide drugs they believe might cause an abortion. Called the Heath Care Rights of Conscience Act, the new law will bar anyone from being required to prescribe or administer a drug they ‘reasonably believe’ might result in the termination of a pregnancy… Critics say the law will open the door for a pharmacist to refuse a request for something like the ‘morning-after’ pill, which the Mayo Clinic says can prevent or delay ovulation, block fertilization or keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.” [Kansas City Star, 5/15/12]

 

Brownback Supporting Allowing Employers To Refuse Contraception Insurance Coverage – Said Women Could “Go Work Somewhere Else” If They Wanted Birth Control. “Brownback said the contraception issue was about respecting the beliefs of religious institutions and not about denying women their rights. His solution for women who work at those institutions and want birth control: ‘Go work somewhere else.’” [Wichita Eagle Editorial Blog, 3/1/12]

 

WISCONSIN

 

Walker Said He Would Sign Controversial Ultrasound Bill. “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker saidTuesday he will sign a measure that’s quickly working its way through the Republican-controlled Legislature that would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound…’I don’t have any problem with ultrasound,’ Walker told reporters after a school choice meeting in Milwaukee. ‘I think most people think ultrasounds are just fine.’” [Associated Press, 6/11/13]

 

PENNSYLVANIA

 

Corbett Signed Legislation Prohibiting Insurance Companies In Health Exchange From Covering Abortion – Even Private Providers. “Women in Pennsylvania who sign up for health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act’s new insurance exchange will not be able to purchase abortion coverage – even with private dollars. Gov. Corbett signed into law a bill today that prohibits abortion coverage in insurance plans offered through the exchanges. Pennsylvania is now one of about 20 other states limiting coverage under the health care exchanges set up to provide lower cost health care to independent workers and small businesses that cannot afford insurance for their employees.” [Commonwealth Confidential, Philly.com,6/17/13]
Corbett Supported Controversial Ultrasound Bill – Said Women Could Just Close Their Eyes. Governor “Corbett made headlines…when he expressed support for a controversial mandatory ultrasound bill in his state, advising women who don’t want to see an ultrasound of the fetus before an abortion to ‘close their eyes.’” [Talking Points Memo, 04/17/12]

 

·         Bill Would Require Ultrasound Screen to Be in Woman’s Line of Sight. Corbett’s comment was in March 2012 in reference to a bill that “requires that a woman not only get an ultrasound, but that the ultrasound screen be in her line of sight. The bill states that the woman can choose to look away, but the technician performing the ultrasound would have to note whether she viewed the results.” [Pennlive.com, 2/29/12]

 

OHIO

 

Kasich Must Sign Budget Bill By June 30; Bill Includes Amendment Stripping Planned Parenthood Funding. “The budget, which must be signed by Gov. John Kasich no later than June 30, contains an amendment that would strip funding from Planned Parenthood by altering the current system of divvying federal funds the state receives for family planning. The bill also contains language that would stop surgical facilities that perform or induce abortions from having transfer agreements with public hospitals.” [Plain Dealer, 6/12/13]

 

2011: Kasich Signed Bills Prohibiting Abortion Coverage Through Insurance Exchange, Late-Term Abortion Ban, Measure Restricting Abortion Access For Minors. “House Bill 79, the third anti-abortion bill Kasich, a Republican, has signed this year, prevents health insurance plans available through the new federal health care law from paying for abortions, unless the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. The bill was among several measures lawmakers took up last week before breaking for the year. HB 79 was among the most divisive. It joins two other anti-abortion bills the GOP-controlled legislature has passed this year: a late-term abortion ban and a law making it more difficult for a minor to get an abortion.” [Plain Dealer, 12/21/11]

 

Ohio Republicans Introduced Bill Requiring 48-Hour Waiting Period Before Abortion, Mandatory Ultrasounds. “A group of Ohio Republican lawmakers has introduced a bill that would require women seeking abortions to wait at least 48 hours and undergo an ultrasound examination. Those requirements are among an extensive list of abortion restrictions in House Bill 200, introduced by Rep. Ron Hood of Southeast Ohio and backed by 34 of his GOP colleagues.” [Plain Dealer, 6/12/13]

 

Legislation Would Require Doctors To Say Fetuses Could Feel Pain And Claim That Abortion Increases Breast Cancer Risk, Eliminate “Medical Necessity” As Reason To Waive Waiting Period. “Among other things, the bill would: * Require doctors to give women a verbal description of the ultrasound, including an audible heartbeat, if available. (The bill notes, however, that a woman can refuse to view ultrasound images or listen to the sounds detected by a fetal heart monitor.) * Compel abortion providers to tell patients that fetuses and embryos can feel pain, and that a woman who has an abortion increases her risk of breast cancer. […] * Eliminate ‘medical necessity’ as a reason to waive the waiting period. Medical necessity had been defined as a medical condition that complicates the pregnancy so that it warrants an immediate abortion.” [Plain Dealer, 6/12/13]

 

VIRGINIA

 

Ken Cuccinelli’s AG Office Approved Regulations Requiring Abortion Clinics To Meet Excessive Construction Requirements. “The Virginia Board of Health on Friday gave final approval to new regulations for abortion clinics that will force them to spend large sums on renovations that abortion rights advocates say are medically unnecessary… Last year, the Health Board initially decided to ‘grandfather in’ existing clinics, exempting them from many of the construction requirements, which were originally written for newly built hospitals. But the conservative attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, ruled that such exemptions were illegal under the 2011 law and warned board members that they might be personally responsible for legal costs if they were sued over the matter.” [New York Times, 4/12/13]

 

·         State Health Commissioner Resigned In Protest Over “Political Meddling.” “The board reversed itself, leading the state health commissioner at the time, Dr. Karen Remley, to resign in protest over what she described as political meddling. Dr. Remley, in an interview Friday, said that she and many other legal and medical experts believe that Mr. Cuccinelli was wrong in his interpretation of the law, that its wording allows a more flexible application of the construction requirements.” [New York Times, 4/12/13]

 

Washington Post Editorial: “Va.’s Cuccinelli Plays Fast And Loose With The Facts On Abortion.” “Mr. Cuccinelli has written that Planned Parenthood’s sex-education programs in the nation’s schools are ‘a loss leader’ for the organization, whose real goal is to hook youngsters into seeking ‘abortion on demand.’ That conspiratorial view does not align with reality, but it does square with Mr. Cuccinelli’s general disdain for any facts that pose an obstacle to his ideological agenda. [Washington Post Editorial, 6/12/13]

 

Following A “National Debate,” Bob McDonnell Signed Bill Requiring Mandatory Ultrasounds Before Abortion Procedures. “Amid continued protests from Democrats, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell on Wednesday signed into law a controversial bill requiring Virginia women to undergo an ultrasound procedure prior to having an abortion. The bill sparked national debate this month over a provision that would have required many women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds, which opponents decried as medically unnecessary and physically invasive. McDonnell, a conservative who opposes abortion rights, ultimately requested that mandate be stripped. The Virginia House of Delegates passed a revised version last week that allows women to “reject” a transvaginal ultrasound and instead opt for an abdominal ultrasound, which generally yields less information in the early stages of a pregnancy.” [CBS News, 3/7/12]

 

FLORIDA

 

Scott Signed Bill Forcing Doctors to Offer Ultrasounds Performing Abortions. In 2011 Governor Scott signed off on HB 1127 “requiring that women be offered the opportunity to see and hear a description of ultrasound images before undergoing an abortion.” The bill “requires that ultrasound be performed on woman obtaining abortion; requires that ultrasound be reviewed with patient before woman gives informed consent for abortion procedure; requires that woman certify in writing that she declined to review ultrasound… provides exemption from requirement to view ultrasound for women who are victims of rape, incest, domestic violence, or human trafficking or for women who have serious medical condition necessitating abortion.”  [Tampa Bay Times, 5/5/11HB 1127, 7/1/11]

 

ARIZONA

 

Brewer Signed Law Forcing Doctors to Offer Ultrasound Images. “Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law Saturday a measure that expands abortion-clinic licensing statues to include those abortions initiated with medication. The measure also guarantees every woman considering an abortion is provided with an ultrasound, sees the results and hears the heartbeat, if audible.” [Arizona Republic, 4/2/11]

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Star-Ledger Politifact:  Christie Eliminated $7.5 Million In Family Planning Funding And “On Three Occasions, Christie Has Rejected Efforts By The Legislature To Restore Those Family Planning Dollars.“PolitiFact New Jersey found that Booker’s claim is on target. Christie eliminated nearly $7.5 million for family planning services in his first budget for fiscal year 2011, and has rejected efforts by the Democrat-led legislature to restore that funding…On three occasions, Christie has rejected efforts by the Legislature to restore those family planning dollars. The first time occurred when the governor vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature in June 2010 to restore the funding. At the time, Christie said New Jersey residents have access to ‘comprehensive reproductive health care services’ at other sites and the state can’t afford to ‘provide duplicative funding for family planning centers.’ In June 2011, the Legislature included the $7.5 million in the fiscal year 2012 budget sent to the governor. Christie eliminated that funding as part of his line-item vetoes, and the Legislature couldn’t secure enough votes to override that veto. Most recently, the Legislature passed a bill in June to restore the funding, but Christie vetoed it.” [Star Ledger, Politifact,9/5/12]

 

After Governor Christie’s Veto In 2010, Six Family Centers Closed Across The State. “In June 2010, the state Assembly and Senate passed a bill that would restore the $7.45 million in funding cut for family planning services. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the bill, S2139, saying New Jersey residents have access to ‘comprehensive reproductive health care services’ at other sites and the state can’t afford to ‘provide duplicative funding for family planning centers.’ Since then, Donna Leusner, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Senior Services, said her agency has been notified that six sites have closed: Westampton and Brown Mills locations run by the Burlington County Health Department; Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey’s Cherry Hill center; FamCare, Inc.’s Millville facility; the Bayonne Women’s Health and Family Planning Center; and Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey’s Dover site.” [Star-Ledger, Politifact, 6/10/11]

 

2010: Christie Proposed Eliminating State Funding For Family Planning Programs. “The governor also proposed the elimination of state funding for family planning services. ‘This is terribly surprising, and a misguided message from the governor,’ said Phyllis Kinsler, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central Jersey, with offices in New Brunswick, Perth Amboy and Spotswood. According to Kinsler, for every $4 Planned Parenthood receives from the state it saves the state $28 in Medicaid-related costs. ‘We supported his message that he wanted to protect programs that save state dollars and leverage federal dollars. Not only is this bad for public health but it is a disaster for the taxpayer,’ said Kinsler.” [Home News Tribune, 3/16/10]

 

Christie Claimed Family Planning Clinics Have “Nothing To Do With Mammograms” — Clinics Performed Over 60,000 Breast Exams In 2009. “Christie has never cited the abortion issue as a reason for cutting the funding. But he was resolute about his decision in a Wednesday night radio program on 101.5 FM. ‘I don’t believe that is a priority in a budget where you have to cut $11 billion,’ the governor said. ‘I believe that women have the opportunity to access health care all across New Jersey. Family planning has nothing to do with mammograms, and don’t put the two of them together.’ Citing Christie’s ‘confusing’ remarks and noting the clinics performed more than 60,000 breast exams last year, Weinberg subsequently met with the governor’s chief of staff, Richard Bagger.” [Star-Ledger, 6/25/10]