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State Update: MAJOR ACTIONS IN SEPTEMBER 2003

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

Click here for updates from previous months.

Click here for a summary of state legislation enacted so far in 2003.

Jump to actions around:
  Abortion
  Prevention & Contraception
  Youth
  Other



ABORTION

Bans on "Partial-Birth" Abortion

The Michigan legislature passed a measure restricting so-called partial-birth abortions, although the bill does not use that term. Under the measure, a physician may be liable for prosecution for performing an abortion in which the fetus is partially delivered through the vagina and shows evidence of life, except when necessary to protect the woman's life or prevent an "imminent threat" to her health. The bill has been sent to Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) for signature.

Limitations on Public Funding of Abortion for Low-Income Women

A state appeals court upheld Florida's law permitting abortion funding only in cases of life endangerment, rape and incest. The court ruled that the state's interest in protecting potential life and containing Medicaid costs supercedes women's right to broader funding of abortion services.

The Indiana Supreme Court expanded coverage of state-funded abortions to include instances when the woman faces serious physical health risks; state law had limited funding only to cases of life endangerment, rape and incest. The court found no just cause under the state constitution to deny abortion to Medicaid enrollees with serious health risks and that physicians should have discretion to determine the woman's health status. The policy change went in to effect September 24, 2003.

Requirements for Parental Notification for Minors Seeking Abortions

A state appeals court issued an opinion establishing guidelines for implementing Arizona's long-standing judicial bypass procedure for minors seeking abortions. Under the guidelines, a pregnant minor must present "clear and convincing" evidence to prove that she is mature enough to have an abortion without parental consent. In making the decision, the judge must consider the minor's experience, perspective and judgment.

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

The Missouri legislature overwhelmingly overruled Gov. Bob Holden's (D) veto of a measure requiring a woman to receive state-directed counseling and then wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion. Although the requirement will not apply when a medical emergency exists, it will be apply to cases of rape or incest. The law is set to become effective October 11, 2003.

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

Maryland began issuing Choose Life license plates under a law that allows nonprofit organizations with at least 25 members to establish specialty tags. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the license plates will go to Choose Life of Maryland, Inc.


PREVENTION & CONTRACEPTION

Expanding Access to Emergency Contraception
Offering Services Related to EC to Sexual Assault Victims in Emergency Rooms

New York's Gov. George Pataki (R) signed into law a bill requiring hospitals to provide EC on request to sexual assault victims. A hospital will not have to provide EC to a rape victim who is pregnant, a clause added to reflect current practice at many Catholic hospitals. These hospitals administer a standard pregnancy test that, if used within the EC window of effectiveness, would only determine if the woman had been pregnant prior to the rape. The law will go into effect in January 2004.

Oregon's Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) signed a measure requiring the state Department of Justice to pay for the provision of EC to sexual assault victims when dispensed as part of a medical assessment. The measure does not require medical professionals to provide EC to sexual assault victims. The law goes into effect in March 2004.

Allowing Pharmacists to Provide EC without a Prescription

The California legislature enacted two measures amending current law governing the provision of EC by pharmacists. Under the measures, pharmacists will be allowed to dispense EC under a specific EC drug therapy protocol established by the state's pharmacy and medical boards even if they are not acting under a specific collaborative practice agreement with a physician. Pharmacists will be required to undergo one hour of EC drug therapy training and will be barred from seeking unnecessary medical information from patients. In addition, pharmacists will be limited to charging no more than $10 as an administrative fee for dispensing EC, including any patient consultation provided. Gov. Gray Davis (D) signed the bills on October 2; they will go into effect in January 2004.

Medicaid Waivers Expanding Eligibility for Family Planning

Both houses of the Wisconsin legislature defeated measures that would have removed minors from the state's family planning demonstration project, which provides family planning services to women 15-44 with a family income up to 185% of the federal poverty level ($15,260 for a family of three in 2003).


YOUTH

Sex Education

The California legislature enacted a measure that will consolidate and modify state laws on sex and HIV/AIDS education. Under the measure, sex education courses in the state are required to include information on emergency contraception and cover abstinence. Previously, state law had required that abstinence be stressed. The measure also prohibits school districts from requiring parental consent before enrolling students in sexuality or HIV/AIDS education courses, although parents will be allowed to opt their children out of the courses. On October 2, Gov. Gray Davis (D) signed the bill into law; it will go into effect in January 2004.


OTHER

Regulating Stem-Cell and Embryo Research

California Gov. Gray Davis (D) signed two bills affecting stem cell research. One statute requires the state Department of Health Services to develop guidelines for human stem cell research conducted in the state. All stem cell research projects will need to be reviewed and approved by a state-organized Institutional Review Board using the guidelines. The other measure establishes a state-run registry that lists embryos available for stem cell research and requires medical professionals providing fertility treatment to inform patients of the option to donate unused embryos. Payment for the donation of embryos for research is prohibited. Both laws go into effect on January 1, 2004.

Materials Claiming a Link Between Abortion and Breast Cancer

The North Dakota Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling rejecting a resident's claim that a brochure distributed by a women's health facility violated the state's false advertising law. The brochure quotes the National Cancer Institute's determination that there is no evidence of a direct link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer. The court ruled that the resident lacked standing in the case because she admitted that she had never actually read the brochure.


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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