KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Abortion, Contraception Controversies Create Political Divisions

In some states, even some Republican legislators are not endorsing anti-abortion rules as a group of Catholic hospitals, which had supported the Obama administration's contraception compromise, revoked that approval.

Reuters: Catholic Group Seeks Change In Birth Control Policy
The biggest U.S. network of nonprofit health facilities formally asked the Obama administration on Friday not to require Roman Catholic-affiliated institutions including hospitals to provide employees with health coverage for contraceptives. The Catholic Health Association of the United States, which initially welcomed White House efforts to find compromise with Catholic authorities on the contraceptives issue, said administration proposals have not satisfied its concerns about emergency contraceptives that could interfere with a fertilized egg (Morgan, 6/15).

St. Louis Beacon:  Catholic Health Association Backs Away From Limited Support For Contraception Coverage Mandate
Long a backer of universal health care, the CHA sent the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services a letter that called current provisions to exempt only churches from providing sterilization and contraceptive coverage “unacceptable.” In the letter CHA president, Sister Carol Keehan, asked for the federal department to expand its exemptions on religious grounds to "not only churches, but also Catholic hospitals, health care organizations and other ministries of the church (Rice, 6/16).

Chicago Tribune: Contraceptive Mandate Stirs Local Catholics
The Archdiocese of Chicago has not yet joined 43 other Roman Catholic institutions in suing the federal government over a mandate to pay for birth control, but local Catholic leaders are urging parishioners to speak out against what they view as a threat to religious freedom (Brachear, 6/17).

Los Angeles Times: Idaho Woman's Case Marks A Key Abortion Challenge
The plaintiff aborted her fetus at home after about 20 weeks, using pills purchased over the Internet from an out-of-state doctor. She represents a discomfiting situation for both sides of the debate as her civil suit takes on the state's strict laws. ... The case also marks the most significant constitutional legal challenge so far to so-called "fetal pain" statutes, adopted by Idaho and at least five other states. Such laws significantly shorten the window of time in which a woman can legally abort a fetus — in the case of Idaho, to 19 weeks (Murphy, 6/16).

Kansas City Star: Thousands Email Governor About Missouri Contraception Bill
Gov. Jay Nixon has been inundated with nearly 5,000 online messages, emails and letters as he mulls what to do with a politically thorny bill injecting Missouri into the national debate over insurance coverage for contraception. The Republican-led Legislature sent the Democratic governor a bill saying no employer or health plan provider can be compelled to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization or abortion if those items run contrary to their religious or moral convictions (Blank, 6/16).

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Abortion Rights Advocates Score A Victory Before The State Board Of Health
The Virginia Board of Health on Friday rejected a controversial proposed regulation that would have required abortion clinics to meet new hospital construction standards. After hearing from dozens of opponents, including physicians, some of whom called the proposed regulations politically motivated and a thinly veiled attempt to make it more difficult for women to get abortions in Virginia, the board approved an amendment that exempts existing abortion providers from the building guidelines. New clinics still will have to meet hospital construction standards (Green, 6/16).

The Dallas Morning News: Arlington Rep. Bill Zedler Tries A New Path For Rejected Abortion Rules
Rep. Bill Zedler of Arlington has worked for years to get women to provide the state with more information about why they're getting abortions. ... The price of collecting the information, the invasiveness of the questions and the polarizing nature of abortion legislation meant Zedler's bills failed, even in a Legislature dominated by Republicans and anti-abortion sentiments. Now, at Zedler's urging, the state health department has copied some of his legislation into proposed state regulations (Hoppe, 6/15).

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