Policy & Practice


Utah Passes Parental Consent Law

Utah joined more than 20 other states last month in requiring parental notification and consent before a minor can have an abortion. Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signed the requirement into law March 16. Previously, physicians were required to notify one parent if a minor was seeking an abortion but consent was not required. Now, physicians must obtain written consent from a parent or guardian at least 24 hours before performing an abortion. But there are exceptions to the law. For example, minors can bypass parental consent by seeking a court order. Further, physicians can perform the abortion without parental consent if a medical condition exists that makes the abortion necessary to prevent the minor's death, if necessary to prevent “a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” or if there isn't time to obtain consent without putting the minor at risk. Parental consent is also not required if the pregnancy is a result of incest with the parent or the parent has abused the minor. In those cases, the physician is required to report the abuse to the state.

51 HIV/AIDS Care Grants Funded

Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have awarded nearly $580 million to support HIV/AIDS primary care and services for low-income residents in major cities across the United States. The money will pay for 51 grants awarded under the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency act. Some of the grants will be distributed based on the estimated number of people living with AIDS in the area, and other grants will be awarded competitively based on severe need and other criteria. The grants can be used to pay for a range of services, including physician visits, case management, assistance in obtaining medications, home-based and hospice care, and substance abuse and mental health services. A list of this year's grant awards is available online at

Wisconsin Moves to Sue for Plan B

Wisconsin officials are weighing in on the issue of the over-the-counter availability of emergency contraception. Last month, the state's attorney general filed documents with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York seeking to be named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration over its failure to approve over-the-counter marketing status for Plan B emergency contraception. The lawsuit, Tummino et al. v. Andrew C. Von Eschenbach, was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights in January. The suit claims that the FDA is failing to follow its own procedures by ignoring sound scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness and that it is holding the drug to a different standard than other medications available without a prescription. The case is in the discovery phase.

Ultrasound Before Abortion

Physicians who perform abortions in Michigan are now required to offer women an opportunity to view an ultrasound image of the fetus if ultrasound has already been performed or if it will be used during the course of the abortion, according to a new state law. The requirement is part of a recently passed law that expands the state's informed consent requirements for abortion. Women seeking an abortion can choose to view or decline to view the ultrasound image. However, the law does not require physicians to perform an ultrasound that was not already planned as the original version of the legislation did. The law was signed in March by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) and went into effect on March 24.

Colorectal Ca Screening for Blacks

Despite clinical guidelines calling for early screening for colorectal cancer in African Americans, many African American women haven't gotten the message, according to the Black Women's Health Imperative and the National Women's Health Resource Center. About 6% of African American women over age 45 years reported discussing colorectal cancer with their health care provider at their last visit, according a recent survey commissioned by the two groups. The women said they didn't discuss colorectal cancer because they didn't think they were at risk, their physicians didn't bring it up, or they didn't think there was a reason to talk about it. In an effort to increase awareness about the heightened risk that African American women face from colorectal cancer, the groups have launched the “African American Women Dare to Be Aware” campaign. The campaign includes tools such as a risk assessment, a list of colorectal cancer resources, a fact sheet, and questions and answers from an African American oncologist. More information on the campaign is available online at


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