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Mayhem in the House of Representatives

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 22, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Who knew a fight over a reporting requirement for rape survivors could take down a horrible bill that would impose a nationwide abortion ban on later pregnancies? But that’s exactly what happened last night. Just as I was about to get on a treadmill to work out the stresses of the day, I learned that the House Rules Committee was hastily convening at 9 pm to replace the 20 week ban bill with a totally different anti-abortion bill.

You can’t make this stuff up when it comes to abortion politics.

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The Real Cost of Abortion Restrictions

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 22, 2015 at 12:08 pm

On Tuesday, while President Obama reminded us, “[T]hat every women should have access to the health care she needs,” I was returning home from the premiere of Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign. Some of the stories were heartbreaking and some were amazingly uplifting, but they all had one thing in common—each woman made the decision that was best for her and her family.

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Fighting to Protect Roe v. Wade – 42 Years Later

Posted by Courtney Ross, Intern | Posted on: January 22, 2015 at 09:37 am

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. In Roe, the Court recognized for the first time that the constitutionally protected right to privacy encompasses a woman’s right to decide if, and when, she becomes a parent. 

As a twenty-five year old woman, who has only lived in a post-Roe world, it can be difficult to imagine the landscape of women’s health and reproductive rights issues prior to this decision. I cannot fathom a world where abortion is illegal, forcing women to resort to dangerous back alley abortions.

Even though Roe was decided 42 years ago and even though it’s the only reality I know, the fight to protect the right is more critical now than ever. In Texas, for example, an extreme anti-abortion law shut down more than half of abortion clinics. There are now huge parts of Texas where women no longer have access to these services.

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The Latest Controversy Over The Inadequate Rape/Incest Exception

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 21, 2015 at 06:59 pm

Two Congresswomen who had cosponsored H.R. 36, the bill that would impose a nationwide ban on later abortions, pulled their support yesterday because of the narrow exception for rape and incest survivors. This exemption would have required survivors of rape or incest to report their attack in order to obtain an abortion. Media accounts noted that the two cosponsors pushed for eliminating the reporting requirement. This latest controversy highlights the fundamental problem with this bill—the cold rejection of the reality of women’s lives.

H.R. 36 exempts a rape or incest survivor only if the survivor reports the sexual assault to an “appropriate law enforcement agency” (or, in the case of incest, to a “government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect”).

You may be wondering why this is an issue. For one thing, most sexual assaults aren’t reported--official statistics set reporting rates at just 35% [PDF]. Among college students, the reporting rate is just 20% [PDF].

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Here’s How You Fight: Support the Women’s Health Protection Act

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 21, 2015 at 04:19 pm

I am in charge of intern hiring for our team at the Law Center. Lately, I have noticed a lot of intern applicants saying that they weren’t interested in reproductive rights specifically until they heard about what was happening in Texas. You see, the Texas state legislature passed a bunch of horrible abortion restrictions that have shut down half of the state’s abortion clinics, leaving huge swaths of the state without an abortion provider. Many of the remaining clinics could still close if some of these restrictions are ultimately upheld by the courts.

During the special legislative session convened just for passing the horrible restrictions, a huge crowd of women’s rights supporters showed up to protest the bill and support Wendy Davis’s filibuster. It was truly an amazing sight; people across the country stayed up into the wee hours to watch Wendy, the crowd, and other state representatives push back on the awful bill.

After some rushed maneuvering by the anti-abortion politicians to shut down the filibuster and the protestors, the legislature passed the law.

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House Passes Bill that Targets Immigrant Women and Families & Vulnerable Workers

Posted by Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Fellow | Posted on: January 21, 2015 at 02:28 pm

We’re not even three weeks into the 114th Congress and the U.S. House of Representatives has already passed two measures aimed at deporting millions of immigrant workers and children.

The amendments, which are tucked away in a spending bill (H.R. 240) for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), would 1) roll back President Obama’s November 2014 executive order that halted deportation and offered work permits for four million undocumented immigrants, and 2) eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that provides similar protections for Dreamers (i.e., undocumented immigrants who entered the country before age 16 and have lived continuously in the United States for at least five years).

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Working Families Pay Too Much in State and Local Taxes

Posted by Reggie Oldak, Senior Counsel and Director of Government Relations | Posted on: January 16, 2015 at 04:13 pm

Remember when a presidential nominee famously said, “Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. …” ?

According to the Tax Policy Center [PDF], that was the approximate fraction of households that paid no federal income tax for 2009. But, as the Tax Policy Center went on to explain, almost two thirds of the 47 percent work and contribute payroll taxes that help finance Social Security and Medicare. The temporarily unemployed, those who used to work and have now retired, those who make too little to be subject to the income tax, and entrepreneurs whose businesses experience a loss may not be paying income tax or payroll tax in a particular year but will have contributed a great deal over time. And let’s not forget the wealthy and big corporations who exploit loopholes to avoid taxes.

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Take It From POTUS: It’s Time to Lead on Leave

Yesterday, the White House announced  it would take important steps toward ensuring that workers have the right to earn up to seven paid sick days a year and paid family and medical leave to care for their families. Specifically, the White House plans to call on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act and on states and cities to pass similar laws; provide new funding to help states design their own paid family and medical leave programs; and increase the paid sick days and family and medical leave benefits available to federal employees.

This initiative will help all workers, but will be especially meaningful to women who still shoulder the lion’s share of caregiving responsibilities. With more families counting on women’s wages than ever before, both women and men need to be able to take time off from work to welcome a new baby, to care for a sick child or elderly parent, or to address their own medical needs without suffering financial hardship as a result. As the President noted, “[N]o matter how sick they are, or how sick a family member is, they may find themselves having to choose to be able to buy groceries or pay the rent, or look after themselves or their children." 

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