KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

States Draw Stark Lines On Abortion With Lawsuits And Legislation

State laws -- 40 of them in 15 states -- are making it harder to get an abortion in the U.S., according to a new report. Meanwhile, a House panel approves new measure to curb abortion in the District of Columbia.

Reuters: New State Laws Make Getting Abortions Tougher In U.S.: Report
American women face increasing legal obstacles to obtaining abortions as more states pass laws restricting access, some so stringent they approach a ban on the procedure, according to a report issued on Wednesday by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The New York-based advocacy group cited nearly 40 laws enacted across 15 states this year having the potential to restrict women's access to reproductive health care, nearly 40 years after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade made the controversial procedure legal (Le Coz, 7/18).

Roll Call: House Committee Approves Ban On D.C. Abortions After 20 Weeks
The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill today that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia. The party-line vote of 18-14 came as no surprise: The National Right to Life Committee calls the bill its No. 1 legislative priority for passage in the 112th Congress, and the Republican majority by and large holds anti-abortion positions. What was surprising, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) said, was that Republicans seemed almost reluctant to speak about why the bill was D.C.-specific (Dumain, 7/18).

The Washington Post: House Panel Approves Ban On D.C. Abortions After 20 Weeks
The bill would likely command majority support if it comes to a House floor vote, though its ultimate fate is unclear. It is unlikely to come up for stand-alone consideration in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But Senate Republicans could seek to attach it to other legislation (Pershing, 7/18).

The Texas Tribune offers several interactive maps focusing on women's reproductive health issues. 

Texas Tribune: Interactive: State Family Planning Contractors
Since budget cuts took effect last September, the Department of State Health Services has implemented the Legislature’s order to reduce family planning funding through its department by two-thirds, from $111 million during the last biennium to $37.9 million in this one. A funding priority system that gives most money to federally qualified and comprehensive health clinics has left many specialty reproductive health providers in a lurch (Murphy, 7/19).

Texas Tribune: Interactive Map: Women's Health Program Providers
In conjunction with the Fertile Ground series, we've updated the state's list of Women's Health Program providers. Since the last iteration of this map in February, Gov. Rick Perry has rejected Medicaid funds to continue the program as a federal-state partnership. Anti-abortion proponents are trying to exclude abortion affiliates like Planned Parenthood from participating, but a court injunction will keep them in the program while a lawsuit moves through the court (Aaronson, 7/19).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Abington Health, Holy Redeemer Call Off Merger
Abington Health and Holy Redeemer Health System called off their plans for a merger Wednesday, amid intense pressure from activists who opposed the plan because it would have meant an end to abortions, which Abington has been performing. The two institutions released a brief joint statement Wednesday afternoon, saying that officials were disappointed but that their decision was "in the best interests of both organizations." … The merger, announced just three weeks ago, was officially termed a "partnership" between Abington and the Catholic-run Redeemer. It had been sought in the belief that a larger, more efficient institution would be better equipped to cope with the federal health care overhaul (Avril, 7/19).

And in related news --

CQ Healthbeat: One Lawsuit Dismissed And Another Filed In HHS Contraception Fight
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by seven state attorneys general challenging a Health and Human Services rule on contraception, but the legal battle isn't letting up. An evangelical Christian liberal arts college filed a new suit in the District of Columbia on Wednesday, joining a similar action by Catholic University (Norman, 7/18).

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