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State Update: MAJOR ACTIONS IN JULY

These summaries highlight activities in the states this month. As of August 1, 10 state legislatures are still in regular session: CA, IL, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA and WI

Jump to actions around:
  Abortion
  Prevention & Contraception



ABORTION

Using Revenue from "Choose Life" License Plates to Fund Crisis Pregnancy Centers

A federal district court struck down Louisiana's law allowing revenue generated by the sale of "choose life" license plates to be distributed to organizations designated by the "Choose Life" Advisory Council. The court ruled that by failing to offer a range of viewpoints with regard to the messages displayed, the state's specialty license plate program violated the right to free speech. Under the law, none of the funds from the plates could go to organizations involved in or associated with abortion clinics or prochoice advertising.

Requirements for Parental Notification for Minors Seeking Abortions

The Florida Supreme Court struck down the state's law requiring that a minor's parents be notified at least 48 hours prior to her abortion, unless she obtained a judicial bypass. The court ruled that by requiring a minor to disclose her decision to have an abortion to others, the measure violated the right to privacy explicitly guaranteed by Florida's constitution. The measure, which was originally enacted in 1999, was never enforced because of the legal challenge.

Requirements for State-Directed Counseling, Followed By a Waiting Period

Missouri Governor Bob Holden vetoed a measure requiring a woman to receive state-directed counseling and then wait at least 24 hours before obtaining an abortion. If signed, the measure would have gone into effect in January 2004.

A federal district court struck down the section of Alabama's counseling and waiting period law requiring abortion clinics to pay for the state-prepared materials and videotapes that must be distributed to women seeking abortions. The court ruled that by requiring a physician to pay for state-prepared materials that may not be congruent with his or her views, the measure violated the right to free speech. Under the measure, clinics would have been required to pay $4 per booklet and $50 for each video. As a result of the ruling, women will be required to receive the materials prior to an abortion, although the state will not be able to require clinics to pay for the pamphlets and videos. Distribution of the materials remains enjoined, however, while they are reviewed to ensure their accuracy.

Protecting Access to Abortion Clinics

A federal district court upheld a buffer-zone law in Massachusetts that establishes a six-foot protected zone around people within 18 feet of clinic entrances and prohibits individuals from interacting with clinic visitors or staff to counsel or protest within this area. The court found that by applying equally to clinic employees and protestors, the law did not violate protestors' right to free speech. The measure was originally passed in 2000.


PREVENTION & CONTRACEPTION

Expanding Access to Emergency Contraception

The Oregon House passed a measure to require hospital emergency rooms to offer emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault and to provide the medication if requested. The version of the measure that had been passed by the Senate in May did not include the requirements that emergency contraception be provided on request; the legislation now goes to a conference committee to reconcile the differing versions. Neither version includes a refusal clause that would allow some emergency rooms to opt out of the requirement.

Requiring Contraceptive Coverage

The Illinois legislature enacted legislation mandating that insurers cover prescription contraceptive drugs, devices and outpatient visits if they cover prescription drugs, devices and outpatient visits generally. Although the new law does not include a specific refusal clause, the state's long-standing refusal clause--under which insurers are exempt from covering any service that violates their conscience--applies to the requirements of the new law. The measure goes into effect in January 2004.


Production of the State Update is made possible by support from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and The Prospect Hill Foundation.




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