Welcome to “The Quickie” — Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s daily tipsheet on the top health care & reproductive rights stories of the day.
ALL EYES ON SOUTH CAROLINA AS SENATE DEBATES ABORTION BAN: A bill that would ban nearly all abortion in South Carolina is on the state Senate floor today after passing out of committee by a 9-8 vote yesterday. The bill — which ultimately passed the House last week after political maneuvering — was amended in committee to remove the exception for victims of rape and incest by a 7-3 vote of all Republican men. Committee members also rejected an amendment yesterday to add exceptions for fetal anomalies. In its current form, the bill would only allow a patient on the brink of death to get an abortion in South Carolina — a state with dangerously high rates of maternal and infant mortality, particularly for Black women and babies. If South Carolina Senators pass this ban, they will do so against the clear will of their constituents and at the expense of their health and wellbeing.
PENNSYLVANIA LAWMAKERS ADDRESS DANGERS OF ANTI-ABORTION CLINICS: Yesterday, Pennsylvania lawmakers heard testimony from reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates about the dangers of anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers,” which have proliferated across the state. Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates field director Cortney Bouse told the Pennsylvania Capital-Star that these fake clinics — approximately 156 in number compared to the 17 abortion-providing health centers in PA — continue to spread misinformation about abortion and contraception, scaring patients with claims about non-existent risks.
The hearing was a critical step in advocates’ fight against fake clinics, which have received millions of dollars in funding from the state of Pennsylvania since the 1990s, despite vehement objections from pro-reproductive rights lawmakers and a 2017 report that indicated that primary grantee Real Alternatives has misappropriated funds. Advocates and legislators speaking at the hearing agreed that action must be taken.
State Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester, is the prime sponsor of legislation that would eliminate state funding for crisis pregnancy centers, which has been a contentious part of the state budget since the 1990s… “We don’t have to give second chances,” Shusterman said, arguing that these organizations have been taking millions of dollars in state funding for years while not providing women with the medical health care they need.
Melissa Weiler Gerber, president and CEO of AccessMatters, a sexual and reproductive health organization, called on lawmakers to take action by defunding the centers.
“It is vital that the Commonwealth take immediate action to redirect these resources to where they can have the most impact and ensure provision of service in Pennsylvania is not based on ideology but instead evidence-based, comprehensive care,” Weiler Gerber said.
Read more from the Penn Capital-Star.
The Health Capsule
PPFA’s weekly roundup of recently-published articles that address timely and critical reproductive health topics.
UN WARNS ABOUT IMPACT OF ABORTION BANS ON MINORITIES IN THE US: Recently, the APhighlighted independent United Nations Human Rights experts’ concerns about abortion bans in the United States. This summer, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a group that works closely with the UN, reviewed human rights issues in seven countries, including the US. The committee reviewed the effect of US abortion bans on rights of Black, Latino, Indigenous people, immigrants, and people with low incomes.
The committee members called on the US to provide safe and legal access to abortion under the country’s existing commitments to human rights, and to ensure that people seeking abortions and providers are not subject to criminal prosecution.
The committee also brought into focus the effects of systemic racism along with the intersecting effects that gender, race, ethnicity and migration status have on the ability of people to access a full range of sexual and reproductive health in the US.
Read the AP article here.
BLACK DOCTORS MARCH AGAINST RACISM IN MEDICINE: Last week, The Observer covered doctors in white coats marching and rallying in Pasadena, California to draw attention . to discrimination against Black patients and Black physicians.
Led by Black Doc Village, a non-profit that exists to support physicians and to expand the Black physician workforce to improve health outcomes in the Black community, the group organized the event to draw attention to racism in the medical profession.
According to the CDC, African Americans have the highest rate of infant mortality of any ethnic group. The number of Black doctors is also disproportionately low — at just 5 % — according to a 2019 survey by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Read more about the rally here.
THERE IS NO SEX EDUCATION WITHOUT CONSENT: Sex education is crucial for young people to have the information and skills they need to confidently manage their own sexual health and foster healthy relationships. All healthy relationships, including sexual relationships, must be rooted in consent. Yet consent is often left out of the sex education many young people get.
With sex education curricula decided at a hyper-local level, the sex education that young people receive varies widely and is often inadequate or outright harmful. For example, many abstinence-only-until-marriage programs dismiss or ignore the subject of consent altogether. When young people don’t learn about consent early on, they are left to develop their understanding of it on their own, sometimes through difficult personal experiences.
Consent is ultimately about building healthy relationships, communicating your boundaries, and respecting others’ boundaries. Ensuring young people understand should be the foundation of any sex education.
Read this article to learn more.