Welcome to “The Quickie” — Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s daily tipsheet on the top health care & reproductive rights stories of the day.
SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE REJECTS, RECONSIDERS, THEN PASSES NEAR-TOTAL ABORTION BAN: After a whirlwind of political maneuvering yesterday, the South Carolina House of Representatives ultimately passed a bill that would almost completely outlaw abortion in the state. After hours of floor debate Tuesday, the bill first failed by a vote of 55-47; minutes later, lawmakers voted to reconsider, added a limited exception for certain survivors of sexual assault, then ultimately passed the bill 67-38. The bill now heads to the Senate, which is expected to take it up next week.
“Anti-abortion lawmakers are shamefully defying the will of their constituents in their crusade to make South Carolina a forced-birth state,” said Vicki Ringer, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “Their political game will put lives at risk in a state with already dangerously high rates of maternal and infant mortality, a devastating health worker shortage, and high rates of economic insecurity. This ban puts politicians in control of private health care decisions. This is not what South Carolinians want for their state, and we urge the Senate to reject it.”
Abortion rights supporters rallied in and outside of the State House all day Tuesday, making it known that the vast majority of South Carolinians want to keep abortion safe and legal in their state, and nearly 70% believe the decision should be left to a woman and her doctor – not state lawmakers.
LAWSUIT FILED TO STOP INDIANA ABORTION BAN: Yesterday morning, a lawsuit was filed challenging Senate Bill 1 (S.B. 1), signed into law last month by Gov. Eric Holcomb. The abortion ban would effectively eliminate all abortion access in the state, establishing criminal penalties for providers, eliminating abortion clinics from the health code, and limiting exceptions to the rarest of circumstances. Without judicial relief, the ban will leave more than 1.5 million people of reproductive age in Indiana without abortion access on September 15.
The bill was the first new abortion ban passed by a state legislature following the overturn of Roe v. Wade after Indiana lawmakers convened for a special session nearly immediately after the decision and rushed the bill through in only two weeks. The lawsuit argues that the abortion ban violates both the Indiana Constitution’s right to privacy and equal privileges protections.
“The health and wellbeing of Hoosiers depends on safe, legal access to abortion care,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai‘i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky in a statement Tuesday morning. “This ban is dangerous and cruel. It will directly harm the people of Indiana and send ripple effects through our entire health care system, disproportionately harming our communities of color due to centuries of systemically racist policies— increasing the maternal mortality rate for Black women by as much as 33 percent and 21 percent across the board. The decision to have an abortion should be made only between a pregnant person and their health care provider, and never by politicians without medical knowledge or expertise. Every person deserves the right to access basic care. We will never stop fighting for a person’s ability to control their own life and future.”
The suit was filed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Lawyering Project, the ACLU of Indiana, and WilmerHale on behalf of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai‘i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Women’s Med Group Professional Corp, All-Options, Inc, and Dr. Amy Caldwell.
Health & Wellness Wednesday
IN A POST-ROE WORLD, STUDENTS TEACH EACH OTHER SEX EDUCATION: In a recent article, the Washington Post interviewed several high school students from different states about the sex education they are — or aren’t — receiving.
In a post-Roe world, students are creating their own sex education groups outside of a school setting. In many of their experiences, the information they get in school tends to exclusively prioritize ‘family life education’ or abstinence-based education, neither of which is the honest sex education young people need and deserve.
As students seek sex education, many are turning to Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council Program, a youth leadership peer education program at various affiliates. This program focuses on sex education, advocacy, and social justice.
Nadya Santiago Schober, Peer Education Institute Manager at Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky emphasizes the impact of this program:
“The initiative, begun in 1989 in Washington state, trains teens to teach other school children sex education, then partners with willing private schools, school districts or community groups to host peer-led lessons on topics ranging from consent to contraception, depending on state law and school policy. Since its founding, it has expanded to 15 states, and last year 300 teens volunteered on 31 councils.”
Despite the rapidly changing sexual and reproductive health landscape, the Planned Parenthood Teen Council has seen an increase in the size of groups for the year ahead, with increasing interest from students in rural areas.
Read the rest of the article at the Washington Post here.
HOW ABORTION BANS IMPACT ACCESS TO GENDER-AFFIRMING CARE: A recent NPR article outlined the long-ranging repercussions that follow when clinics that provide abortion have to close due to abortion bans. In the piece, patients and providers at Planned Parenthood health centers illustrated a dire situation for patients seeking gender-affirming care. Because queer and trans patients often see substantial barriers to care within the broader health care system, they often rely on Planned Parenthood health centers to recieve compassionate gender-affirming care without stigma or bias.
Ashley Coffield, the chief executive officer of the Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi told NPR:
"We were flooded with calls more from our gender-affirming hormone patients than from any other type of patient because we are a continuing source of care for gender-affirming patients…It was very upsetting and scary to them when we were suddenly gone."
Though abortion access is important, health centers offer an array of other sexual and reproductive health care services, and patients need these to live fulfilling, healthy and authentic lives. Gender-affirming care provides life-saving support for many people.
Dr. Bhavik Kumar, the medical director of primary and trans care at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said:
"With trans care, this is not a drill," he said. "As much as people are concerned about abortion care and access to abortion – which is very important – we should also be concerned about trans people and preserving their humanity and dignity."
Over 35,000 of Planned Parenthood's patients nationwide sought gender-affirming hormone replacement therapy in 2021, and that number doesn't include trans and nonbinary people who relied on other services, according to Kumar.
Read the full story here.
ROUTINE GYNECOLOGICAL SCREENINGS ARE DECREASING AND CERVICAL CANCERS ARE ON THE RISE: A new study reported by NPR shows more women are getting advanced stage cervical cancer.
Researchers at UCLA looked at cervical cancer trends from 2001 through 2018 and found the greatest increase among white women in the South age 40-44. The study also showed Black women have a higher rate of advanced stage cervical cancer. Health researchers are concerned that the rates have increased even more during the pandemic.
Researchers believe many women are putting off routine screenings, which can detect early stages of cervical cancer. Only 17% of patients with late-stage cervical cancer will live past five years after diagnosis, but early detection has a survival rate of over 90%.
The CDC recommends women start getting Pap tests at age 21, with a follow-up every three years. Additionally, women should get a routine human papillomavirus (HPV) test. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease and usually has no symptoms. Most sexually active people will contract HPV at some point. It’s a common infection and usually goes away on its own so most people never know they have it. However, some types of HPV cause cervical and other cancers in the reproductive system for both men and women. Early detection offers the best chance for successful treatment.
Planned Parenthood health centers offer various cancer screenings, including those for cervical cancer.
Read the article here.