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Women's Health Week A Reminder of Republican Governors' Assault on Women's Healthcare Rights

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TO:        Interested Parties
FROM:  Sabrina Singh, DGA Deputy Communications Director
DATE:   May 15, 2014
RE:        Women’s Health Week A Reminder of Republican Governors’ Assault on Women’s Healthcare Rights
This week is National Women’s Health Week. Unfortunately, it’s serving as a troubling reminder for women across the country who are living in states with Republican governors that their ability to make their own healthcare decisions have been severely curbed over the last four years.  Republican governors from Florida to Wisconsin, Pennsylvania to Ohio, have systematically assaulted women’s healthcare rights by forcing women to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds before making the most personal of decisions, defunding Planned Parenthood and family planning centers and allowing pharmacists to refuse to distribute contraception.
Because of a Democratic Senate and Democratic president, attacks on women’s healthcare rights have stalled in Congress, but the terrifying reality is that Republican governors have been successful in the states. Despite running on a singular focus to create jobs, those Republican governors have made this is a priority, further underling the need to elect more Democratic governors in 2014.
Democratic governors and candidates are actually focused on the issues important to women – job creation, education, access to quality affordable healthcare, and a stronger middle class. That’s why they will win in November.
Here’s the background on how Republican governors, despite their promise to focus on jobs, have succeeded in attacking a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions despite the failures of their Tea Party allies in Congress to do the same:
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]
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]
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]
Snyder Signed Abortion Limits Bill – Mandated Doctors Screen Women for Coercion Before Performing Abortion. In 2012, Snyder signed a bill that   “mandates doctors screen patients to make sure they haven’t been coerced into having an abortion, and requires fetal remains be disposed of in the manner already used by clinics, Snyder said. It also requires licensing clinics that perform more than 120 abortions a year.” [Detroit News, 12/29/12]
Detroit Free Press Editorial: “Governor’s ‘Balance’ Now Tilts Against Women’s Rights.” “In summary, Snyder seems to have charged into this breach armed with more animus than information. His own rationale notwithstanding, the requirements he signed into law Friday are aimed at reducing the number of abortion providers in the state and expanding the arsenal of tactics available to intimidate women seeking an abortion. Whether by intention or circumstance, one thing is becoming clear: The Snyder who soft-pedaled his own view about abortion in 2010 bears little resemblance to the governor who sits in Lansing today.” [Editorial, Detroit Free Press, 12/30/12]
Snyder Said Only Evidence of Coerced Abortions Was “Anecdotal.” “Snyder said his support for the bill, which requires medical professionals to redouble their efforts to make sure women seeking abortions haven’t been unduly coerced, is consistent with his lifelong opposition to bullying of all sorts. But he conceded his only evidence that coerced abortions are going undetected was ‘anecdotal’ — a telling admission for a politician who likes to boast that his governing decisions are data-driven.” [Editorial, Detroit Free Press, 12/30/12]
Detroit Free Press: “Disingenuous” to Call Legislation a Compromise. “Pretending that Friday’s actions represent a compromise between the interests of women and pro-life Republicans is disingenuous. Michigan’s governor has made his choice, and women who want to preserve their own must now look elsewhere for help.” [Editorial, Detroit Free Press, 12/30/12]

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]
North Carolina: Pat McCrory Signed Sweeping Regulations That Could Effectively Close Most NC Abortion Clinics. “North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday signed into law a measure directing state officials to regulate abortion clinics based on the same standards as those for outpatient surgical centers, a change that critics say will force most to close… Critics say the move will effectively close most of North Carolina’s 16 abortion clinics because only one now meets the standards of an outpatient surgical center. An ambulatory surgical center costs about $1 million more to build than an abortion clinic, the director of the state’s Division of Health Service Regulation told lawmakers earlier this month. It’s unclear how much it would cost existing clinics to convert to higher standards once they are set by DHHS.” [Associated Press, 7/29/13]

McCrory Previously Said He Wouldn’t Sign Any Legislation Creating Additional Abortion Restrictions. “Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday he wants legislators to take a closer look at abortion regulations in North Carolina before acting further on legislation that would place higher standards on clinics and more responsibilities on physicians. McCrory, holding a rare formal news conference in the ballroom of the Executive Mansion, didn’t say specifically what he would do if the current bill — hastily moved through the Senate before the long July 4 holiday — came to his desk. In a televised debate last fall as a candidate, McCrory said he didn’t want to sign legislation that creates additional abortion restrictions.” [AP, 7/8/13]
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]
April 2014: Federal Judge Overturned Ban. “A federal judge ruled Wednesday that North Dakota’s abortion law, considered one of the most restrictive in the nation, is unconstitutional. The law banned most abortions after six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be first detected. ‘The North Dakota strict ban on abortions at the time when a “heartbeat” has been detected — essentially banning all abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy — cannot withstand a constitutional challenge,’ U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland wrote in his decision.” [CNN, 4/17/14]
Kasich Signed “Stringent Abortion Restrictions” In State Budget, Cutting Funding For Planned Parenthood And Requiring Ultrasounds For Women Seeking Abortions. “Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed stringent abortion restrictions into law as part of his state’s budget Sunday night, just days after Democratic Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis thrilled abortion rights groups nationwide with her successful filibuster against proposed anti-abortion regulations in her home state. The provisions in Ohio will make it more difficult for family planning groups to receive funding for preventive care; require ultrasounds for anyone seeking an abortion; and limit abortion providers’ ability to get transfer agreements with public hospitals.” [Washington Post, 7/1/13]
Kasich Signed Bill While Surrounded Exclusively By Men. “A photo of Gov. John Kasich signing the state budget flanked by six men on Sunday night has become a lightning rod of criticism nationally among abortion-rights advocates… The photo was of four male Ohio Democratic staffers, including an intern.” [Columbus Dispatch, 7/3/13]
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]
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,, 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.” [, 2/29/12]
Perry Signed Controversial Abortion Bill Banning Abortions after 20 Weeks. “Capping off nearly a month of intense media coverage and legislative hijinks, Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, signed a bill restricting abortions on Thursday. The measure effectively bans all abortions in the state after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it requires abortion clinics to also become ambulatory surgical centers, and it forces doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic at which they perform the procedure.” [CBS News, 7/18/13]
Perry Jabbed Wendy Davis for Being a Teen Mom: ‘She Hasn’t Learned From Her Own Example.’ “While many have called Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) a hero for standing on her feet for 11 hours to filibuster an anti-abortion bill, Gov. Rick Perry (R) couldn’t resist taking a jab at her for having been a teenage mother…’Even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate,’ Perry said Thursday in a speech to the National Right to Life Convention. ‘It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.’” [Huffington Post, 7/29/13]
Scott Walker Signed Bill Requiring Mandatory Ultrasounds For Women Seeking Abortions. “Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., took a deep dive into the divisive politics of abortion on Friday, signing a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound and barring doctors without admitting privileges at local hospitals from performing abortions. The bill, which takes effect Monday, will make Wisconsin the ninth state in the country to require women to receive an ultrasound procedure before an abortion.” [CBS News, 7/6/13]
Walker “Did Not Sign The Bill In Public.” “Walker did not sign the bill in public. In a statement released Friday, according to The Associated Press, he said the measure ‘improves a woman’s ability to make an informed choice that will protect her physical and mental health now and in the future.’” [CBS News, 7/6/13]