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And So It Begins — A New Congress Reigniting An Old Fight

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 08, 2015 at 03:44 pm

Tuesday, as members of Congress were getting sworn in to start the new session, some members were also reintroducing blatantly unconstitutional legislation that would impose a nationwide ban on abortions for women seeking abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy.

Such a bill is glaringly unconstitutional because it: 1) it bans abortions pre-viability; 2) it does so with an inadequate life exception (apparently the drafters do not think suicide is life-threatening); and 3) it completely lacks a health exception.

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Resolution of Title IX Complaint Against Harvard Law School Will Help Schools Understand How to Properly Address Harassment

Posted by Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics | Posted on: January 08, 2015 at 10:19 am

As 2014 drew to a close, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued its resolution of a complaint against Harvard Law School (HLS) for failing to properly address sexual harassment and assault. The resolution is comprehensive and reflects OCR’s work to vigorously enforce Title IX in our nation’s schools.

Specifically, OCR found that HLS failed to respond appropriately to two specific complaints of sexual assault, noting significant delays between the filing of one complaint and its resolution and the exclusion of the complainant from an appeal that resulted in a reversal of the decision to dismiss the alleged assailant. It also found that the law school failed to train all decision makers to meet the requirements of Title IX and that its Title IX policies and procedures did not comply with Title IX’s requirements for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints.

Among other things, the resolution agreement that Harvard entered into with OCR requires the following:

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Save American Workers from H.R. 30

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 07, 2015 at 05:05 pm

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will be voting on H.R. 30, a bill that would change the Affordable Care Act’s definition of full-time work so that employers only have to offer health insurance to employees who regularly work 40 or more hours a week. Without this change, employers must offer coverage to employees who regularly work 30 or more hours a week.

These are four reasons H.R. 30 is bad for American women, American workers and American families.

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Minimum Wage Rates Go Up In 20 States to start 2015, Increasing Wages for More than 3.1 Million Workers

Posted by | Posted on: January 05, 2015 at 09:15 am

The minimum wage went up in 20 states on January 1st. South Dakota had the largest boost of $1.25 per hour thanks to South Dakota voters, who overwhelmingly approved the wage increase on the state’s ballot in November. Arkansas and Nebraska also saw their minimum wages increase on the 1st as a result of successful ballot initiatives, while workers in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia got raises due to legislative action. Minimum wages in the other nine states—Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington—increased automatically because they are indexed to inflation, a policy that ensures the minimum wage keeps pace with the rising cost of living. Workers in Alaska, D.C., Delaware and Minnesota are set to get raises later in 2015.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Truly Appalling: What Happened to Reproductive Rights in 2014

Posted by Rachel Easter, Fellow | Posted on: December 31, 2014 at 11:54 am

As we all know, opponents of women’s access to birth control and abortion were out in full force this past year. They have used a host of tactics to try and limit women's access to essential health care, including imposing medically unnecessary regulations on abortion clinics and providers supposedly in the name of "women's health," proclaiming the religious freedom of corporations, and invoking junk science about fetal pain. The truth is all of these attempts are simply stepping stones towards their ultimate goal of eliminating women's ability to access comprehensive reproductive care. So, what did all of this mean for women in 2014? A look at some of the highlights, and lowlights, of the past year.

This past year state politicians continued to pass laws aimed at restricting access to abortion. These laws did everything from requiring women to unnecessarily delay abortion care, to making it more difficult for women to receive non-surgical abortions, to taking away women’s ability to buy a health insurance plans that covers abortion. State politicians also continued to pass laws intended to shut down abortion providers, following the trend of the last few years that is starting to leave a woman’s ability to access abortion dependent on her zip code. This all played out this year in Texas, as thousands of women effectively lost access to safe, legal abortion when clinics were forced to close their doors due to the anti-abortion law passed in 2013.

Unfortunately, attacks on women’s access to reproductive health care were not limited to the realm of state legislatures. The Supreme Court struck a blow for women’s health when it decided the now infamous Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

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Trending: Prosecutions of Pregnant Women Continue in Wisconsin

Posted by Abigail Omojola, Fellow | Posted on: December 23, 2014 at 02:22 pm

How do you care for a pregnant woman with a history of drug use? Well, according to Wisconsin, you throw her in jail and administer no prenatal care. You deny all her requests to keep scheduled prenatal visits.

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5 Major Changes for Women’s Health Coverage in 2014

Posted by Stephanie Glover, Health Policy Fellow | Posted on: December 22, 2014 at 05:01 pm

In the past year, we saw significant changes for women’s access to health coverage. In the first year of the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of Americans newly enrolled in affordable, comprehensive health insurance. Women make up more than 50 percent of enrollees on the new health insurance Marketplaces, which is no surprise given that the ACA protects women from discriminatory health insurance practices, makes health coverage more affordable and easier to obtain, and improves access to many of the health services women need.

Here are just a few of the major changes for women’s health insurance coverage this year:

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Guidance from the Departments of Ed & Justice Will Enforce Education Rights of Girls in the Juvenile Justice System

Posted by Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Fellow | Posted on: December 19, 2014 at 04:01 pm

Last week, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (DOJ) released a joint guidance letter reminding juvenile justice residential facilities of their obligations under Title IX [PDF] and other civil rights laws to provide equal access to quality educational opportunities for confined youth.

The guidance makes it clear that under Title IX, all facilities that receive federal funds must offer equal educational opportunities without regard to sex. That means youth detention centers must make sure girls have equal access to career and technical programs and that facilities cannot rely on gender stereotypes when determining what opportunities to make available (e.g., automotive repair classes only for boys and cosmetology only for girls). The guidance also says that under Title IX, facilities must protect committed youth from sexual harassment and violence regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or conformity with sex stereotypes.

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