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National Abortion Federation Blog: Saporta Reporter

News about reproductive choice from the President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, Vicki Saporta. photo of Vicki Saporta
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  Remembering an American hero: George Tiller

We continue to mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was a dedicated physician who provided quality abortion care to women, at great personal sacrifice and risk. He is truly a hero to his fellow abortion providers and his patients. Dr. Tiller’s office is filled with letters from women, thanking him for the excellent, compassionate care he provided. Many of these women say Dr. Tiller saved their lives.

Since his tragic death, we have received messages from some of his patients and from people around the world who are saddened and outraged. We feel it is important to share these words and tributes to our beloved colleague and friend. For the first time, we will enable comments on our blog so that all of you can share your condolences or offer memories of Dr. Tiller. We invite you to join us in honoring a true American hero, Dr. George Tiller.

Post your comments, condolences, and personal memories of Dr. Tiller

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Ruling on Abortion Access for Inmates

Tuesday the Arizona Supreme Court upheld an appellate court decision that said a Maricopa County policy requiring deputies to transport inmates to medical facilities for abortions only when they are medically necessary posed an unconstitutional burden.

The policy only permitted prison officials to transport women seeking abortion care if they had obtained a court order, even though prisoners are regularly transported without a court order for all other necessary medical care.

“Prison officials must attend to all serious medical needs, including abortion care, regardless of whether or not they agree with the decision to end a pregnancy,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Women prisoners should not be subjected to the ideological whims of prison officials.”

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Temporary Injunction Issued in Missouri

A federal judge issued a temporary injunction Monday to stop the enforcement of a Missouri law, which would impose new regulations on abortion providers. The new law would require any facility that performs more than five first-trimester abortions a month, or any second- or third-trimester abortions, to meet the licensure requirements for an “ambulatory surgical center.”

Planned Parenthood will have 30 days to tell the health department what regulations it wants waived. The health department must then respond within 30 days. If the two groups cannot reach agreement, they must return to court.

U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith said that if the state health department insisted upon the most stringent interpretation possible, the renovations required of some abortion clinics could prove so costly they could infringe on the right to an abortion.

>Learn more about Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws, which single out abortion clinics for unnecessary, politically motivated, restrictive regulations.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Women Face Long Wait Times for Abortion Care in Ottawa

Yesterday the Ottawa Citizen ran an article about the long wait times many women face when seeking abortion care in Ottawa.
The average wait for abortion in Canada is an estimated two weeks…and in
Toronto, a woman can usually have the procedure within about eight days. The
average wait time in Ottawa is generally at least four weeks.
In Ottawa, abortion care is provided at an independent clinic two days a week and the Ottawa Hospital one day each week. Abortion access is especially limited during the summer as the Ottawa Hospital closes down and does not provide abortion care the entire month of August. Surgical abortion is one of the safest types of medical procedures, and the earlier an abortion is provided the less complicated and safer it is. Therefore, it is important that women who decide to get abortions can do so without unnecessary delays.

Today, party leaders responded to the story. Premier Dalton McGuinty said increased hospital funding will eventually provide easier access to abortion.

Although access to health services is guaranteed by the Canada Health Act, access to abortion care continues to be a problem for many Canadian women.

>Learn more about access to abortion in Canada.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Appeals Court Hears Case About Abortion Rights for Inmates

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit heard arguments today in a class-action lawsuit concerning the right to obtain abortion care for incarcerated women in Missouri .

In the past, the Missouri Department of Corrections would pay to transport inmates to a facility to obtain an abortion if an inmate requested the option, but not pay for the actual procedure. However, in 2005 this policy was reversed and an inmate could only be transported to obtain abortion care if her health or life were endangered. Last year a U.S. District Court Judge ruled this policy against transporting inmates for abortions was unconstitutional.

“Courts throughout the country have consistently held that being in prison does not mean a woman gives up her reproductive rights,” said Diana Kasdan, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, who argued the ACLU’s position before the court today. “Like other serious medical needs, prison officials must ensure that a woman can access abortion care.”

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

National Abortion Federation Expresses Disappointment in Judge’s Decision to Delay Opening of Clinic in Aurora

We issued this press release today:

    The National Abortion Federation (NAF) expressed disappointment in today’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Norgle dismissing Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed the opening of a new clinic in Aurora, IL.

    Last week, city officials notified Planned Parenthood that their clinic would not be allowed to open until the city completed an investigation into whether Planned Parenthood had complied with the permitting process. The clinic had been scheduled to open on Tuesday.

    “Although the case is still open, today’s decision prevents access to important health care services that the new clinic would offer including sexually transmitted disease treatment, breast cancer screening, and abortion care. Planned Parenthood is being treated differently from other types of medical facilities by the City of Aurora,” stated Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF.

    “While we are disappointed in today’s decision, we are confident that Planned Parenthood will be allowed to provide high-quality and affordable health care to the citizens of Aurora,” said Saporta.

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Court Dismisses Kansas "Kiss and Tell" Case

This week, the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit dismissed the government’s appeals in the case concerning the Kansas "kiss and tell" policy.

The policy would have required health care providers and counselors to report all sexual activity by teenagers under 16, including kissing between two teens, to state authorities as evidence of child abuse.

A group of health care and counseling professionals represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights filed the case challenging the policy and succeeded in permanently blocking it in 2006.

The case, Aid for Women v. Foulston, was dismissed this week because the Kansas state legislature recently revised the state’s child abuse reporting law in a way that makes clear that the law does not require blanket reporting of all adolescent sexual contact.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Hampshire Law Makers Seek to Reinstate Parental Notification Law

In New Hampshire, two legislators are drafting bills that would restore the state’s parental notification law. This summer New Hampshire was the first state to repeal its parental notification law. The legislators said their bills would enact a slightly different version of the law that was repealed.

The repealed law never took effect because of a successful challenge by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England that was argued in U.S. Supreme Court.

>Learn more about how parental involvement laws affect women.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Federal Judge Delays Clinic Opening in Aurora, IL

Yesterday a federal judge delayed the opening of Planned Parenthood’s new clinic in Aurora, IL pending a hearing on Thursday. The clinic was planning to open today—and had scheduled 13 patients for services—but city officials have refused to issue the permanent occupancy permit to the clinic.

In court yesterday, Planned Parenthood’s attorney said the city was putting extra and unconstitutional hurdles in the path of the clinic. U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle will hear more evidence and make a decision Thursday.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Support Planned Parenthood in Aurora, IL

Planned Parenthood has launched a petition to show support for their soon-to-be opened clinic in Aurora, IL. For each signature, they will tie a ribbon outside the clinic to tell the protesters that Planned Parenthood has support from across the country, and to let the women seeking care there know that they are welcome and supported.

The clinic is scheduled to open September 18, but anti-abortion protesters have tried to convince the city to not issue a permanent occupancy permit to the clinic. Yesterday, Planned Parenthood sought a federal court order requiring the city to issue the permit so that the clinic could open and see the 13 patients already scheduled for Tuesday.

>Sign Planned Parenthood’s petition.

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New Jersey Supreme Court Protects Reproductive Freedom

In a unanimous decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that doctors do not have an obligation to inform women considering abortion that an embryo is a "complete, separate, unique and irreplaceable human being.”

The decision dismissed a medical malpractice lawsuit that sought to require physicians in New Jersey to give a non-medical, value-laden speech to their patients before providing abortion care.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Senate Votes to Repeal Global Gag Rule

Yesterday the Senate voted 53–41 to overturn the Global Gag Rule. Also known as the Mexico City policy, the Global Gag Rule prohibits international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive U.S. government funds from using their own private funds to perform or provide abortions, lobby their own government for a change in abortion laws, conduct public education campaigns about abortion, refer women to safe abortion providers, or even provide medically accurate counseling about abortion to their clients.

Just before the vote, the White House budget office warned that if Congress sent the President a measure that "weakens current federal policies and laws on abortion, he would veto the bill." The Senate vote was short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a Presidential veto.

President Reagan instituted the Global Gag Rule in 1984. President Clinton rescinded the policy, but President Bush re-imposed this punitive policy on his first business day in office in 2001.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Women in the Philippines Lack Access to Safe Abortion Care and Contraceptives

This week Reuters examines the challenges facing women in the Philippines where abortion is legal only in cases of life endangerment and reliable contraceptives are difficult to obtain. In the Philippines, the majority of the population obtains contraceptives from the U.S. government agency USAID, which has been the largest supplier of contraceptives in the country for more than 30 years. However, as part of a plan to help the Philippines achieve self-sufficiency in family planning, USAID has started phasing out supplies and plans to end its donation program in 2008.

Government officials in this predominantly Roman Catholic country are reluctant to fund or supply oral contraceptives and condoms. Instead they encourage people to use natural family planning methods, which have a high failure rate. According to a survey by the Guttmacher Institute, more than half of the women who have had an abortion in the Philippines were not using any family planning methods, and of those who were, three-quarters were using natural methods advocated by the government, such as rhythm or withdrawal.

Illegal abortion is a national health issue for women in the Philippines. Many women are forced to self-induce or seek dangerous back-alley procedures in order to end an unwanted pregnancy. Nearly 80,000 women in the Philippines are treated in hospitals annually for complications from induced abortion, and at least 800 women are estimated to die every year from complications, according to health reports.

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