KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Catholic-Secular Hospital Mergers Further Complicate Abortion-Rights Battlefield

Mergers between Catholic and secular hospitals could mean wider restriction of abortion, even as lawmakers in many states consider tighter regulation or bans on the procedure.

The New York Times: Hospital Mergers Reset Abortion-Access Battle
Politicians seeking to restrict access to abortion, a marked trend this year from North Dakota to Arkansas, tend not to get much traction in [Washington state]. Washington is heavily Democratic, leaning left especially on social issues. A majority of voters even put into law a statutory right to abortion in 1970 -- the only state ever to do that. ... But now a wave of proposed and completed mergers between secular and Roman Catholic hospitals, which are barred by church doctrine from performing procedures that could harm the unborn, is raising the prospect that unelected health care administrators could go where politicians could not (Johnson, 5/12).

Elsewhere, a federal judge is refusing to drop his ruling that would allow women and girls of all ages over-the-counter access to emergency contraception --

The New York Times: Judge Refuses To Drop His Order Allowing Morning-After Pill For All Ages
A federal judge on Friday stepped up his criticism of the Obama administration, accusing the Justice Department of making "frivolous" and "silly" arguments in its attempt to delay making the morning-after emergency contraceptive pill available to women and girls of all ages without a prescription (Shear, 5/10).

Los Angeles Times: Judge Again Rejects Limits On Emergency Contraception
In yet another scathing critique of government health officials, a federal judge refused Friday to stay his order making emergency contraceptives available to consumers of all ages without a prescription. Calling government efforts to restrict the sale of drugs such as Plan B "frivolous and taken for the purpose of delay," U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman of New York wrote that the medications would be available to all unless the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled otherwise by noon Eastern time on Monday (Morin, 5/11).

And a Supreme Court justice gives a surprising retrospective of Roe v. Wade --

The Associated Press: Ginsburg Says Roe Gave Abortion Opponents Target
One of the most liberal members of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could be expected to give a rousing defense of Roe v. Wade in reflecting on the landmark vote 40 years after it established a nationwide right to abortion. Instead, Ginsburg told an audience Saturday at the University of Chicago Law School that while she supports a woman's right to choose, she feels the ruling by her predecessors on the court was too sweeping and gave abortion opponents a symbol to target. Ever since, she said, the momentum has been on the other side, with anger over Roe fueling a state-by-state campaign that has placed more restrictions on abortion (Keyser, 5/11).

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