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Monday, March 26, 2012

WOMEN'S HEALTH — WHERE DO WE STAND?

Whether you call it the “war on women” or the “battle to stop abortion,” these perennially intense Texas issues are burning even brighter thanks to the heat of the 2012 state and national elections. The debates center on Texas’ new law requiring preabortion sonograms, the decision to exclude clinics run by Planned Parenthood or its affiliates from the Texas Women’s Health Program, and the Obama administration’s decision to require employers to cover birth control. I’m getting plenty of calls asking where TMA stands on these issues. Here’s a rundown of our policies and positions:
  • During the 2011 Texas Legislature, we urged lawmakers not to “prescribe the details of the practice of medicine.” We also testified in support of continuing the Women’s Health Program.
  • In October 2011, we called on the Health and Human Services Commission to modify proposed rule changes for the Women’s Health Program so more practicing physicians can participate.
  • TMA abortion-related policy: TMA guidelines for performance of abortion are based upon early and accurate diagnosis of pregnancy; informed and nonjudgmental counseling; prompt referral; skillful and understanding personnel working in a good facility; reasonable cost; and professional follow up. TMA opposes partial-birth abortion.
  • TMA family-planning-related policy: TMA supports full funding of family planning services for uninsured women in Texas, including physical examinations; a contraceptive method; and screenings for diabetes, breast and cervical cancer, hypertension, anemia, and other infections and diseases. TMA opposes redirection of family planning funds to nonmedical services for pregnant women, and will request that the Texas Department of State Health Services track how the shift of federal funds from family planning clinics to federally qualified health centers and alternatives-to-abortion programs affects (a) the use of preventive services, (b) the rate of births to low-income women, and (c) the rate of abortions among low-income women. TMA supports continuation of funding of family planning services for uninsured Texans. All adolescent and adult persons who are institutionalized at facilities of state, county, and municipal governments should be given, as feasible, full information on family planning and prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases prior to their discharge from the facility. The information should be communicated in a form that is appropriate for the cultural, linguistic, mental, physical, and developmental status of each person.

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