Abortion

As he takes the stage Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is firmly in Hillary Clinton's camp — and his party's — on the big health care issues. Now a U.S. senator from Virginia, Kaine supports the Affordable Care Act and pushed its Medicaid expansion. He also worked to overhaul the mental health system when he was governor of Virginia.

Here are highlights and a few flashpoints of controversy from Kaine's health policy record:

Mental health

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is in the spotlight this week as the man Donald Trump has picked to be his running mate. Pence's decisions about health and health care in Indiana have drawn attention from within and outside the state. His record could be important in November, because Trump doesn't have a legislative record at all.

Here's a quick look at the governor's history in terms of health policy in Indiana.

Medicaid Expansion

Delegates at the Republican convention in Cleveland have approved the strongest anti-abortion platform in the party's history. But groups that oppose abortion — groups that lobbied for the strong language — are far from unified.

In fact, following last month's Supreme Court decision reaffirming a woman's right to abortion, leaders of a movement known for speaking largely with one voice are showing some surprising disagreement.

Pittsburgh Lawyer Cited As Part Of SCOTUS Abortion Decision

Jun 28, 2016
Alex Brandon / AP Images

Elements of a Texas abortion law were struck down Monday by the Supreme Court. Among the provisions in the case was a requirement that abortion clinics must meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers as well as a mandate that doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges to a hospital no more than 30 miles away. Now that the Court has struck down the provisions, what could this mean for Pennsylvania, who is also debating parts of its abortion laws? We’ll ask Susan Frietsche, she’s a senior staff attorney at the Women’s Law Project here in Western Pennsylvania.

Alex Brandon / AP Images

The United States Supreme Court ended its current term on Monday with some important decisions, but University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris said the most important event of the term was not an opinion at all.

When Zika started spreading through Latin America earlier this year, a number of governments issued advisories recommending that women put off getting pregnant because the virus can cause severe birth defects. At the same time these countries kept in place strict laws that would prevent a woman from getting an abortion if she were already pregnant.

Abortion is one of the more common procedures performed in the U.S., more common even than appendectomy. But as clinics in Texas close, finding a place in the state where medical residents training to be OB-GYNs can learn to do abortions is getting harder.

What's It Like Being An Abortion Clinic Escort In Pittsburgh?

May 5, 2016
Connor Mulvaney / PublicSource

Pittsburgh has two abortion clinics. They attract women seeking care as well as abortion protesters and volunteers who guide patients inside. Laura Horowitz began volunteering when violence at abortion clinics in the late 1980s and early 1990s became more pronounced. She joins us to talk about how it works along with Sabrina Bodon who wrote a recent piece about this topic for our content partner PublicSource.    

Bill To Limit Pennsylvania Abortions Voted Out Of Committee

Apr 4, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

 

Republican-crafted bill that would place new limits on abortion is out of a Pennsylvania legislative committee days after the amendments to the Abortion Control Act were introduced.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

More than 50 pro-life advocates held signs and balloons outside Planned Parenthood on Liberty Avenue urging state lawmakers to investigate the organization and federal lawmakers to take action as part of a national “Women Betrayed” rally that marched on 50 cities Tuesday.

“We are out here to call for a defunding of Planned Parenthood,” said Amee Murphy, rally captain and executive director of Life Matters Journal. “The organization takes over 300,000 of unborn children every year and takes over $500 million of taxpayer funding every year, $7 million of which comes from Pennsylvania taxpayers.”

For now, the 15-foot buffer zone outside of Pittsburgh’s downtown Planned Parenthood location will remain in place.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh has delayed ruling on a lawsuit challenging the city ordinance that requires protesters and other abortion opponents to stay outside a painted yellow line marking the zone. The lawsuit contends this violates the Constitution.

A group of anti-abortion activists has filed suit against a 15-foot buffer zone outside of Planned Parenthood’s downtown Pittsburgh location.

The move follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer that struck down 35-foot protest-free zones outside abortion clinics in Massachusetts for violating the First Amendment rights of protesters.

“We filed suit seeking to have the ordinance found unconstitutional, that it’s an inappropriate restriction on speech,” said attorney Lawrence Paladin.

“We’re hoping that it will also obliterate the yellow arch that’s out in front of the building that houses Planned Parenthood.”

Helen Cindrich, executive director of People Concerned for the Unborn Child, is referring to the US Supreme Court’s decision Thursday declaring a Massachusetts law that establishes a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics violates protesters’ free speech rights.

The yellow semicircle outside the Planned Parenthood facility in downtown Pittsburgh marks the 15-foot buffer zone established by a 2006 city ordinance.

It’s uncertain what will happen to that the yellow semi-circle marking a 15-foot buffer zone outside Planned Parenthood’s downtown Pittsburgh location.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling Thursday striking down the 35-foot protest-free zones outside abortion clinics in Massachusetts, saying that law violates the First Amendment Rights of protesters.

But the question remains if the high court’s decision will have on Pittsburgh’s eight-year-old law.

Calling it an “overreach” of the state’s power and a “new frontier,” three female members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are blasting recently passed legislation that would prohibit insurance companies from offering policies that cover abortion services in the soon-to-be-launched Pennsylvania health exchange. 

Reps. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny), Madeline Dean (D-Montgomery) and Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery) said the solution might lie in the next election cycle.

A state Senate committee has passed a proposal to restrict abortion coverage in health insurance plans provided through Pennsylvania's federally mandated exchange.

Last session, similar measures passed the House and Senate independently, but neither one made it through the entire legislative gauntlet.

But with the 2014 operational date for health care exchanges right around the corner, Senate GOP spokesman Erik Arneson said this measure may go to the finish line.