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Weekly Round-Up

Posted by | Posted on: August 03, 2009 at 04:07 pm

by Robin Reed, Online Outreach Manager, 
and Mary Robbins, Program Associate, 
National Women's Law Center

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Billie Jean King to Receive Medal of Honor

Posted by Melanie Ross Levin, Director of Outreach | Posted on: August 03, 2009 at 12:30 pm

by Melanie Ross Levin, Outreach Manager, 
National Women's Law Center 

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If 450,000 Doctors Don't Know What is Best for me and My Family I'm Not Sure Who Does

Posted by NWLC, Intern | Posted on: July 31, 2009 at 08:24 pm

by Katie Carroll, Communications Intern, 
National Women's Law Center 

With 450,000 stepping up to support health care reform now, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Herndon Alliance are asking, well, how can they be wrong?

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DC Council Takes Steps to Protect Poor Families

Posted by NWLC, Intern | Posted on: July 31, 2009 at 06:40 pm

by Amy Rosenthal, Outreach Intern, 
National Women's Law Center 

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Wishing My Health Policy Work Weren't So Terribly Relevant

Posted by Julia Kaye, Former Health Policy Associate | Posted on: July 31, 2009 at 03:07 pm

by Julia Kaye, Health Policy Analyst, 
National Women's Law Center 

Last night, I was sitting in my dining room chatting with a friend about an obscure philosophical text he’d read for his Master’s program.  My roommate, who’d been busy cooking us (a delicious) dinner in the kitchen, ran in – oven mitts on – unable to contain himself any longer.  It seems he’d written his undergraduate thesis on this very concept and had had few opportunities to discuss it in the decade since.

I envied his excitement.  I’m becoming increasingly familiar with the experience of having one’s professional/academic life become profoundly relevant to the topic at hand while at a social gathering.  Indeed, I find myself putting on my health policy hat more and more often.  It’s not a good thing. 

Last Friday, a friend confided in me that her boyfriend badly needed to go to the doctor and dentist for a check-up—it had been years, and he had some health concerns—but could only afford a plan with a terribly high deductible, and didn’t have the cash to pay for the visits.  A few weeks earlier, in another, “You-do-realize-that-this-is-what-I-do-for-a-living, right?-yes-of-course-I’m-interested” moment, I learned over dinner and drinks that another friend of mine was uninsured.  She works as a waitress and doesn’t have benefits.  Unsurprisingly, she can’t find anything affordable in the individual health insurance market, so she tries to stay healthy and hopes for the best—and has her cousins bring her birth control whenever they come visit from Spain, where you don’t need a prescription.

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Help Us Win the Fight for Health Reform

Posted by Judy Waxman, Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights | Posted on: July 31, 2009 at 01:51 pm

by Judy Waxman, Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights, 
National Women's Law Center

If you think it’s bad now, you haven't seen anything yet.

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A Lesson on Prosecuting Pregnancy

Posted by Grace Lesser, Program Assistant | Posted on: July 30, 2009 at 08:32 pm

by Grace Lesser, Program Assistant, 
National Women's Law Center 

A group of law students committed to reproductive health and justice convened yesterday to discuss the reproductive rights of pregnant women, marking the final gathering in the Law Students for Reproductive Justice summer networking lunch series. The event was headlined by Jill Morrison, Senior Counsel here at NWLC, who was also recently noted as a major player in empowering law students as advocates for reproductive justice

Jill offered a presentation called “Prosecuting Pregnancy,” where she talked about state actions that criminalize the medical decision-making and drug use of pregnant women. For example, women have been criminally prosecuted with such charges as child endangerment, neglect, or fetal homicide when their newborn infants test positive for drugs at birth. Jill posed the question: Is it right to prosecute pregnant women when they (or their newborn children) test positive for illegal  drugs while we don’t prosecute anyone else for who tests positive for illegal drugs? And she answered it for us, too: No, she said, because having illegal drugs in your body is not a crime -- even for a pregnant woman. Jill explained that the Supreme Court has held that it is unconstitutional to criminalize a person’s status, including the status of being an addict.  A person can be charged with possession of a drug, but the appearance of that drug in their system can’t be a crime.

Now, obviously, the issue is a complicated and contentious one. I think that most people are uncomfortable with the notion of pregnant women using drugs. Most of us would probably also agree that using drugs while pregnant could pose potential risks, and would hope that women engage in only the safest habits while pregnant. Here at the National Women’s Law Center, part of our support for comprehensive care in health reform includes drug treatment and prenatal care. In our Making the Grade on Women’s Health Report Card, access to prenatal care was a major status indicator, since we know that women who have prenatal care beginning in their first trimester of pregnancy tend to stay healthier and have healthier babies.

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