NEWS: All OB-GYNs need abortion care training. New bill aims to help them get it.

| Jun 15, 2023

All OB-GYNs Need Abortion Care Training. New Bill Aims to Help Them Get It

NPR, June 15, 2023

Sami Stroebel, an aspiring obstetrician-gynecologist, started medical school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison last summer within weeks of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion. ‘I sat there and was like, ‘How is this going to change the education that I’m going to get and how is this going to change my experience wanting to provide this care to patients in the future?” Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the Democrat from Wisconsin, has an answer to that question. Today, she and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chair of the powerful Senate appropriations committee, are introducing the Reproductive Health Care Training Act. It establishes a grant program, to provide $25 million each year – for the next five years – to fund medical students who leave their states to learn abortion care, and programs that train them. It’s especially important in states like Wisconsin that have near total bans on abortion. ‘Students and their supervising clinicians have to travel out of state to get that component of their training,’ Baldwin tells NPR. ‘Meanwhile, neighboring states — and this is happening across the United States, are accepting an influx of students.’ Stroebel, who co-leads her school’s chapter of the national advocacy group Medical Students for Choice, wants to learn to provide abortion care. The same procedures and medications used to provide abortion are also needed when a pregnancy ends in miscarriage and in other women’s health care that has nothing to do with pregnancy. To be licensed, aspiring OB-GYNs must learn to perform the procedures and prescribe the medications. But in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health, the Supreme Court essentially made abortion rights a state-by-state issue. ‘Wisconsin reverted to the 1849 law where abortion is essentially completely illegal, except in cases where they say that the woman’s life is in imminent danger,’ Stroebel says. Medical schools in Wisconsin and the other states with near total bans can’t teach abortion care. Baldwin says that, since the Dobbs decision, there’s been a documented drop in OB-GYN medical residents who are applying to practice in Wisconsin and other states with bans.

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House Democrats Press Walmart, Costco, Kroger to Sell Abortion Pill Mifepristone

CNBC, June 15, 2023

House Democrats on Thursday called on Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Safeway and Health Mart to publicly commit to sell the prescription abortion pill mifepristone at their retail pharmacies. Pending lawsuits have jeopardized mifepristone’s approval in the U.S. For now, it is the most common method to terminate a pregnancy in the country. The five companies have been silent for months on whether they will get certified to sell mifepristone under a Food and Drug Administration program that monitors how the medication is distributed and used by patients. ‘It is unconscionable that five of the largest retail pharmacies in the country are refusing to declare whether they will receive certification to provide basic, legal, FDA-approved medication abortion health care for Americans,’ Rep. Dan Goldman, D-NY, said in a statement Thursday. Goldman and Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., sent a letter asking the companies’ CEOs to confirm by June 23 whether their pharmacies will get certified to sell the abortion pill. More than 50 other Democratic lawmakers signed on to the letter. ‘Your continued silence is unacceptable as it is misaligned with your publicly stated values in support of equal access to health care and of gender equality,’ the lawmakers told the CEOs in the letter. Democratic governors and senators asked the companies in March whether their pharmacies will get certified to dispense the medication. The companies still have not taken a public position on the issue. The largest retail pharmacies in the U.S. have found themselves increasingly caught in the middle of the national battle over abortion access, which was set in motion by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last June. More than a dozen states have banned abortion since the high court overturned the landmark 1973 decision that protected access to the procedure as a right under the U.S. Constitution. As conservative states implemented abortion bans after the fall of Roe, the FDA sought in January to expand access to mifepristone by allowing retail pharmacies for the first time to dispense the medication if they get certified.

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The Next Red State Abortion Fight Is Unfolding in Ohio

The 19th, June 13, 2023

A coalition of doctors and abortion rights advocates wants to make Ohio the first Republican-controlled state to vote to enshrine abortion rights in its constitution — but they must first defeat Republicans’ efforts to thwart the measure. Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights (OPRR), which launched in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, and Ohioians for Reproductive Freedom are leading the effort to pass in November a constitutional amendment to guarantee abortion rights and other reproductive freedoms in Ohio. The groups and their partners are working to gather over 400,000 signatures from Ohio voters by July 5 for the amendment to appear on the general election ballot in November. Providers and advocates in Ohio view the amendment as their last chance to safeguard abortion access in the state and shield it from the uncertainty of the legal system — and future restrictions from Ohio’s Republican-controlled state government. Ohio Republicans, who hold a supermajority in the state legislature, have called an August special election in a last-ditch effort to make it more challenging to pass the amendment on abortion, raising the threshold for any ballot measure to pass from a simple majority to a supermajority. Both votes will test how voters see elected Republicans’ efforts to alter how the levers of power work in Ohio — which has drifted further right over the past decade, including voting twice for former President Donald Trump — and how they see abortion access The procedure is currently legal up to 22 weeks in the state, with a six-week ban with no exceptions currently blocked by the courts. ‘First and foremost, this is our best opportunity,’ said Lauren Blauvelt, vice president of government affairs and public advocacy at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio and chair of Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom. ‘It is essential. It is our one shot to pass a ballot initiative right now.’ Dr. Lauren Beene, a pediatrician, and Dr. Marcela Azevedo, a pulmonologist, launched OPRR shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

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Google Made Millions From Ads for Fake Abortion Clinics

Wired, June 15, 2023

As a growing number of US states suppress abortion services and reproductive health information, online resources have become increasingly vital for people seeking to terminate a pregnancy. But a new report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a nonprofit that tracks disinformation, claims that Google made more than $10 million over the past two years from ads for ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ anti-choice clinics that aim to convince women not to have abortions. Imran Ahmed, CEO of CCDH, says that Google’s dominance and reputation as a source for trusted information make the findings even more egregious. ‘It’s one of the most morally offensive things I’ve seen among these companies, to build up such trust as a source of epistemic authority and then to sell it out on such a critical issue for essentially peanuts. In terms of Google’s revenues, $10 million is nothing really,’ says Ahmed. “When people say ‘Google it,’ they don’t mean ‘go find lies.’’ Though crisis pregnancy centers often represent themselves as medical facilities or clinics, they are unregulated outfits whose primary goal is to steer pregnant women away from seeking abortions. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, this can mean giving patients incorrect information about the risks of abortions or encouraging unscientific regimens, such as ‘abortion reversal.’ Many of the tactics used by crisis pregnancy centers are aimed at delaying termination until women have passed the legal limit for accessing an abortion, thus forcing them to keep the pregnancy. Because crisis pregnancy centers, unlike medical clinics, are not regulated, they are also not bound by the data privacy and patient confidentiality laws that govern legitimate medical facilities. Google did not respond to a request for comment. Google remains the dominant search engine on the internet, accounting for more than 93 percent of all searches worldwide.

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Gallup Survey Shows Support for Abortion in U.S. Remains Strong

The Guardian, June 15, 2023

A new Gallup survey has found American support of legal abortion access has remained strong, and in some cases increased, since the US supreme court ruled to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that previously protected federal abortion rights. The results come even as tens of millions of American women have lost easy access to abortion across larges swathes of America over the past 12 months. The study found a record-high 69% of Americans said abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy. The prior high of 67% was recorded last May after the supreme court’s draft was leaked. At the same time, the survey showed 34% of Americans believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances, just one point off last year’s record-high of 35% and above the 27% average since 1975. Some 52% of Americans say abortion is morally acceptable, matching last year’s all-time high. That is 10 percentage points above the historical average since 2001. ‘We’ve seen the public react very strongly to the [abortion] decision since it was leaked and after it was made,’ said Justin McCarthy, a spokesperson for Gallup. ‘It may have changed how Americans define what it means to be pro-choice and pro-life.’ Although most Americans still oppose a later-term abortion, 37% say it should be legal in the second trimester and 22% in the final trimester. Gallup said these figures are the highest since 1996. Since the US supreme court overturned federal abortion rights, a number of Republican-controlled state legislatures have brought in abortion bans that have varied in their extremity. Abortion has also become a national political issue in the US as some Republicans have sought to distance themselves from the extreme bans that some in their party advocate, including an effort to bring in a federal ban on the right to abortion. Leading Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has sought to distance himself from banning abortion rights outright – despite being responsible for the conservative makeup of the supreme court that overturned Roe – while others, such as former vice-president Mike Pence and rightwing Florida governor Ron DeSantis, have taken a more hardline stance.

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