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A Bittersweet Victory for Women's Health: Federal Appeals Court Reluctantly Strikes Down North Dakota's Extreme Abortion Ban

Posted by Christine Castro, Intern | Posted on: July 31, 2015 at 02:38 pm

Good news for North Dakotans last week — the Eighth Circuit affirmed a lower court's decision striking down a ban on abortions. This extreme law would have banned abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know they are pregnant. Although it's great the court found the law unconstitutional, it's clear the judges were looking for a way to uphold it — and that could be troubling for the future.

The Eighth Circuit stated it "had no choice but to follow" Supreme Court precedent holding that bans before viability are unconstitutional. The opinion could have ended there. Instead, the Eighth Circuit said the Supreme Court should revisit its viability standard because "this choice is better left to the states." But, leaving the decision up to the states would mean states like North Dakota would enact laws, such as this one, that ban abortion earlier and earlier in pregnancy.

Decisions regarding a woman's pregnancy should be left to her and her doctor. Laws like North Dakota's deprive a woman of her ability to make an extremely personal, medical decision, and hands the decision over to politicians.

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Wilma Mankiller for the $10 Bill

Posted by Anna Morrison, Intern | Posted on: July 31, 2015 at 12:05 pm

The United States Treasury Department's decision to place a woman's face on the redesign of the $10 bill is one of great importance. This change opens the door for a new face — literally and figuratively — for our country. At the official announcement of the bill redesign, Treasurer Secretary Jack Lew summed up that our currency "is a statement of who we are as a country." That declaration begs the question: in a moment of change, who do we want to be as a country?

There are a few symbolic elements of the new bill that help narrow down who this inspirational figure should be. First of all, this change will materialize the importance of women in the founding and shaping of the United States. Currently there are no women displayed on our seven paper forms of currency. Changing this helps shift the way we view American history to prioritize female leaders' strong influences. Additionally, it is important that the US Treasury announced the theme of this new bill is democracy. Designing this new bill will make a statement about what democracy means in 21st century America. When honoring both women's achievements and the perseverance of democracy, there is no better candidate for the face of the $10 bill than Wilma Mankiller.

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That Time When Planned Parenthood Visited My Classroom

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: July 31, 2015 at 11:15 am

My high school health class consisted primarily of reading the textbook — sometimes silently and sometimes aloud to the class — and completing worksheets. To say I didn't learn much would be an understatement. But one day the painful monotony was broken by a guest speaker from Planned Parenthood. This amazing and brave woman stood in front of a class of around thirty 15 and 16 year olds and gave us medically accurate, non-judgmental information about birth control.

I'm from a small, conservative Texas town. That same public school teacher who taught the Worst Health Class in the World — one of the myriad of coaches forced to teach something other than physical education — had required me to copy prayers from a book as punishment for passing a note in class. Actual sex education was not something I had expected. And, yet, thanks to Planned Parenthood it was something I did get.

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Around the Water Cooler: Advice for Grads

Posted by | Posted on: July 31, 2015 at 09:55 am

Welcome to our new blog series: Around the Water Cooler at NWLC! We're interns this summer at the Law Center, and we wanted to get to know some of the amazing people that we work with every better. We've learned so much about (and from) them, and we thought you'd enjoy getting to know them too.

As rising seniors in undergrad, we're thinking a lot about the future. We asked our co-workers what advice they would give us (and other graduates) who want to pursue careers in the feminist movement.

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Senate Hearing on Campus Sexual Assault Identifies Important Next Steps

Posted by Rebecca Ojserkis, Legal Intern | Posted on: July 30, 2015 at 01:55 pm

During my junior year of college, I helped lead a student organization named Women of Amherst, which in part worked to raise awareness about the occurrence of sexual assault on campus. At the time, some of my classmates didn't realize (or occasionally rejected) that sexual assaults happened on our idyllic campus. Since then, the efforts of activists and advocates nationwide have put a spotlight on the issue. Now, the conversation is focused on what the federal government can do about this pervasive problem.

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on how to combat campus sexual assault. The testimony provided at the hearing and later submitted in written form will inform the Senate HELP Committee as it works on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

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My Boring and Awesome Planned Parenthood Experience

Posted by Abigail Bar-Lev, Fellow | Posted on: July 30, 2015 at 11:30 am

When I was 19 years old and beginning my second year as an undergrad at the University of Minnesota, I realized there were two things I needed to do to start taking care of my reproductive health: First, that I was at the age where I needed to start having annual gynecological exams (ugh, a very unwelcome rite of passage into adulthood), and second, that I should be getting birth control.

I had heard a lot of good things about the Minneapolis Planned Parenthood, and I had always supported Planned Parenthood, so I thought I'd make an appointment.

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NWLC Supports Congressional Progressive Caucus' Resolution to Support Child Care

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: July 30, 2015 at 10:15 am

Earlier this week, there was nowhere I would rather have been than under a broiling hot sun on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol — standing up with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, SEIU, and child care and other workers to support increased investments in child care and supports for working families. The Congressional Progressive Caucus followed up by introducing a resolution to highlight the economic costs and the costs to working families of our vastly underfunded child care system. They will be holding a series of town halls, roundtables, and rallies around the country in August to highlight the crisis for parents and workers and talk about the need for the solutions outlined in the resolution.

At lunchtime, flanked by an assortment of adorable children, Representative Suzanne Bonamici spoke about the importance of living wages, workplace policies that ensure that workers can meet their families' needs, and affordable child care.

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Why I #StandwithPP

Posted by Brandie Temple, Well Woman's Benefit Hotline Coordinator | Posted on: July 28, 2015 at 04:05 pm

A Good First Impression

When I was 18 years old I visited Planned Parenthood for the first time to get an annual checkup and birth control prescription. This wasn't my first annual exam, I had been to my family doctor before for the same reason, but decided to go to Planned Parenthood this time as a gesture of independence. The difference in the care that I received at Planned Parenthood was clear — there were no funny looks when I told them I had had unprotected sex and I didn't feel judged when I asked for STD testing. They gave me real, unbiased answers to my questions about sex and birth control. I walked out of there with a birth control prescription and a bag of free condoms, more confident to make better decisions and take control of my own health. I continued to turn to Planned Parenthood for all of my preventive health care needs — STD testing, cancer screenings, and birth control.

A Life-Long Connection

A few years later I had just finished an associate's degree and had a job without health insurance. I had been taking birth control pills but began having either side effects from the pill or symptoms of pregnancy. I went to my Planned Parenthood clinic and, without judgement, had a pregnancy test done. The test was positive. I was terrified and unsure of what to do next. The nurse practitioner who gave my result talked with me honestly and compassionately about all of my options.

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