Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays New York! Love, HHS

In case you were wondering how the horrific HHS Regs affect us here in good old liberal NYC? The outlook isn't pretty.

From Joan Malin (president of PPNYC) in the Huffington Post today:

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule today that allows health care workers to deny patients vital care, information and services without the patient even knowing.

The rule will take effect in 30 days, and will be difficult to reverse.

Unfortunately, this regulation is not just another crazy Bush regulation that New Yorkers, thanks to our local laws, are safe from. In fact this regulation could quite possibly overturn many of our State’s hard-won healthcare victories, meaning that:

• Rape victims would not be provided with Emergency Contraception in a timely manner;
• Pharmacies could discriminate or delay access to birth control; and
• Health insurance plans that cover prescription drugs would not also have to cover birth control.

Thanks to this midnight regulation, New Yorkers can no longer go to the Emergency Room and trust that a provider's sole motivation is to give the best care available. Instead health care workers from the doctor down to those behind the check-in desk are free to withhold information about any procedure they find distasteful, without even letting you know that they are doing so.

The terms of this regulation are so vague that its possibilities are staggering. Janitors could refuse to clean rooms that have had sterilizations performed in them. And yes, birth control really could be considered abortion.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Julie Rovner on HHS ruling on NPR this past Wed

BRAND: All right. So come January 20th when there's a new president in town, can't he just simply over turn these regulations?

ROVNER: Well, actually, the new president can't overturn these regulations, but because the administration has waited so long, it's possible that the new Congress can. There's something called the Congressional Review Act and because these regulations are coming so late in the administration they are falling within the window of that Congressional Review Act. There are expedited procedures. Congress would only have to get a majority vote in the House and Senate. And in the Senate it couldn't be filibustered and because these regulations are so controversial. It would be likely that this would be the type of regulation that could be taken up and overturned under the Congressional Review Act then the new President would merely have to sign it.

BRAND: But it sounds like a fairly lengthy process.

ROVNER: It's not that lengthy. It's certainly a little more lengthy than some of the other things that President-elect Obama is expected to do on the Reproductive Rights front but it's certainly easier than having to go through the entire regulatory process again, to put through an entire rule and to go in and take more public comment.

(full NPR piece)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Update on HHS Regulations

"There is, though, no regulation forcing doctors to be fully transparent with patients—as there is forcing hospitals and clinics to hire docs without regard to the services that they're willing to perform. "It's, at best, window dressing," says Roger Evans, in charge of litigation and law policy at Planned Parenthood. "There's no legal requirement for a doctor to say anything."

-- US News and World Report has a piece on what exactly the new rules mean.

HHS Regulations Are Issued

"The patient has an interest in obtaining legal health care services….This must be balanced against the statutory right of the provider in the context of a federally funded entity to not be discriminated against based on a refusal to participate in a service to which they have objections, such as abortion.”

RH Reality Check has two articles up so far analyzing the rule. More to come on exactly what it means for you. One thing worth mentioning, however. Since the rule was issued within 30 days of Obama taking office, it will become official, and will therefore be harder to reverse.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What to expect when you're unexpecting

In the very recent history of actual abortion blogs, comes the latest from the tumblr Un-expecting. Similar to the pioneering What to expect when you're aborting, Un-expecting chronicles a girl's experience as she goes through the procedure from start to finish, from worries to choices to how she feels once it's over.

As "What To Expect" first noted, there aren't a lot of pop culture places for a woman to turn to see examples of other who've actually had an abortion, so these ladies figured they'd start their own.

Especially helpful is Un-expecting's latest post where she puts together a checklist for things she was happy to have during the procedure.

Price of codoms worldwide

In case you're traveling to Ireland or something and didn't realize you should probably stock up, below find a handy-dandy chart of condom prices around the world. And while they may be kind of pricey here in NYC, don't forget: at Planned Parenthood they're always free! (via)

How soon will the HHS regulations come down?

The horrific HHS regulations, which as the LA Times pointed out on Dec 2 would basically erase the credibility of the medical profession, might become law this week. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Via Feministing:

A woman in Oxford, MS, was harassed by the pharmacy staff when she tried to purchase Plan B.

Emergency Contraception is sold over the counter to women over 18 years old, yet the woman said:

The pharmacy worker started asking for proof of insurance in order to get the pill. My girlfriend refused and asked to speak to someone in charge. The pharmacist then came, and my girlfriend told him she simply wanted Plan B and that her ID should be good enough. The pharmacist then went about getting the pill, but they also seem to have a policy, a abortion clinics, of forcing a waiting period of an hour and giving adoption literature to the person requesting the contraceptive. Now, Plan B is just an additional spermicide [ed note: while Plan B is a form of contraception, it is not, in fact a spermacide], not an abortion pill, but that's another can of worms. In the end, my girlfriend demanded the Plan B immediately, and she got it, but not without a fair amount of interference on Walgreens' part. They also insisted on writing down her driver's license number.

Getting emergency contraception can often be harrowing enough -- 9 times out of 10 you're getting it because a condom broke or an unexpected situation. I'm happy to report that I've had an absolutely pleasant experience in NYC -- where the pharmacist didn't even blink an eye and happily handed over the contraception. But asking for insurance? Giving adoption literature? Missouri, get with the program.

Contact the Oxford Walgreens at (662) 513-0894. Contact the corporate offices or call at (877) 250-5823 and tell them that store number 7757 is harassing women trying to buy Plan B.

Have yourself a merry little OB/GYN check-up!

Planned Parenthood of Indiana's new gift certificate program is getting a lot of negative attention in the anti-choice blogosphere. But as Elizabeth Nolan Brown of points out, the hysteria over the certificates being used primarily for abortion procedures is just that: hysteria.

"...[A]ccording to its Web site, 81 percent of PP patients go there to prevent unwanted pregnancy. PP’s biggest services are providing contraceptives and routine women’s health procedures."

It's unfortunate that so much of the new program's coverage dredges up the same tired, false anti-choice talking points about Planned Parenthood: that it "pushes" abortion, that abortion is the primary service it provides, that it's more interested in profit than the health of its patients. Isn't the blatant inaccuracy of those arguments enough to wear them out?

In increments of $25, the certificates could offer uninsured women access to basic health care-- something they might not be able to afford otherwise in a gloomy economy that has many Americans moving their own health further and further down their list of priorities. So while a new iPhone is way more fun than a PAP smear, what could mean more this holiday season than the gift of reproductive health?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy World AIDS Day!

Not afraid to be helpful: Fun ways to break the ice when asking someone their HIV status

As you already know, today is World AIDS Day. One of the hardest, yet most essential, things about dating in this day and age is getting up the guts to ask potential partners about their HIV status. So we’ve included some helpful ways to break the ice below:

• Say “Look, I put clean sheets on the bed! And speaking of clean….”

• Arrange to meet someone at a certain time. Arrive ten minutes early. While waiting, text them asking for a status update. When they write back, reply “No, not THAT status silly…”

• Find the free HIV testing places closest to cupcake bakeries. Propose a “recession date” where you take advantage of the free activities around NYC. Show up at the testing facility and bribe date with promise of cupcakes.

• As an early Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza/New Years present, give your date a coupon for one hot and steamy makeout session, redeemable upon presentation of their HIV test results.

• Find out your potential partner’s favorite celebrity superstar. Photoshop up a fake copy of US Weekly with that celebrity in it espousing on how cool it is to get your HIV test results. Casually read this out loud in front of them (note this works extra well if their favorite celebrity has already spoken out about the importance of HIV testing. Not so well if their favorite celebrity is someone like Heidi Montag).

• “Knock knock”
“Who’s there?”
“Orange who?”
“Orange you glad I know my HIV status? When are you finding out yours??”

And in case you're more of a visual person

World AIDS Day - When was the last time YOU were tested?

Did you know? AIDS is:
* the leading cause of death for black women (including African American women) aged 25–34 years.
* the 3rd leading cause of death for black women aged 35–44 years.
* the 4th leading cause of death for black women aged 45–54 years.
* the 4th leading cause of death for Hispanic women aged 35–44 years.
Hmm, think maybe today is a good day to get tested?