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Tennessee Senate Passes Two New Bills Restricting Abortion

Posted by Rachel Easter, Fellow | Posted on: April 21, 2015 at 11:57 am

This week Tennessee politicians are voting on two abortion restrictions, HB 977 and HB 1368, that would make it much more difficult for women in the state to get an abortion. Both bills passed the Senate last week and are awaiting votes on the House floor. These laws fit the now familiar trend across the country of legislators that seem determined to pass laws at the expense of the health of the women they were elected to represent.

Cutting off abortion access…

So what would these bills actually do? Well, HB 1368 requires that clinics meet the same licensing requirements as ambulatory surgical centers—a requirement that has to do with the number of water fountains and the width of the clinic’s halls, not patient safety. Medical groups, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose these requirements “because they improperly regulate medical care and do not improve patient safety or quality of care.” Bringing clinics into compliance with these unnecessary requirements costs more than $1 million—most clinics don’t have that kind of money to spend on useless renovations, so many will be forced to close their doors if HB 1368 becomes law, which is exactly what these laws are intended to do.

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New Report Shows How Girls of Color Are Doubly Disadvantaged in Access to School Sports Opportunities

Venus and Serena Williams, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Jessica Mendoza, Michelle Wie... The sheer excellence of these female athletes of color might lead one to think that the playing field is finally level, for all girls and women. But the sad truth is that high schools across the country still do not give girls equal opportunities to play sports, and girls of color are doubly disadvantaged. That’s the main message of a report released today by the National Women’s Law Center and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, which presents new data in a new way to highlight athletic disparities on the basis of race and gender.  

Because data on sports opportunities, or spots on teams, are not available by gender and race together, the report compares the opportunities provided by heavily minority schools (where 10 percent or less of the students are white) and heavily white schools (where 90 percent or more of the students are white). The major findings of the report are:

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All Means All: Coverage of Birth Control Methods and the ACA

Posted by Brandie Temple, Well Woman's Benefit Hotline Coordinator | Posted on: April 17, 2015 at 01:45 pm

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (the ACA or Obamacare) health plans are required to cover many women’s preventive services, including birth control, without copays or deductibles. However, a new Kaiser Family Foundation study of health plans and their birth control coverage found that some plans are utilizing “medical management” for some birth control methods, often resulting in barriers for women accessing the method that has been prescribed to them by their health care provider. Examples of medical management used by plans includes placing some methods into cost-sharing “tiers,” requiring that providers give pre-authorization for a prescription before covering it, and in some cases requiring that a covered method “fail” before covering a woman’s preferred method.

At a briefing held yesterday at the Kaiser Family Foundation, panelists discussed the implications of the study and the potential harm when medical management becomes an obstacle for women accessing birth control. One panelist – an insurance plan representative – described the logic behind this type of medical management as “indefensible.” Our own Gretchen Borchelt, VP for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), drove home the importance of compliance by health plans, by explaining that these are not just problems or barriers, but are violations of the law.

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ESEA Bill Advances: Fix It, Congress

Posted by Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, Fellow | Posted on: April 17, 2015 at 09:34 am

Yesterday, the Senate HELP Committee voted to advance the Every Child Achieves Act out of committee. This bill would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the major federal K-12 education bill. Although the bill passed out of committee unanimously, several members expressed concern that the bill did not include core civil rights protections for disadvantaged students.

We echo those concerns and hope that if the bill advances to the floor, the Senate adds the following measures to ensure all students have access to a quality education:

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Department of Labor Proposes Protecting People with Retirement Savings Accounts Against Bad Investment Advice

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: April 16, 2015 at 02:32 pm

Did you know that the financial advisors you pay to help you decide how to invest your IRA or 401(k) aren’t required to act in your best interest? That they can recommend the investment that pays them the biggest commission—and make misleading statements to you about it? Isn’t that crazy?

Fortunately, this enormous gap in consumer protection will soon be closing. Yesterday, the Department of Labor issued a proposed regulation that would generally treat people who provide investment recommendations or advice to people who have, or are the beneficiaries of, employer-sponsored retirement accounts and Individual Retirement Accounts, as fiduciaries. This means that, with some exceptions, those who provide investment advice regarding such accounts will be required to “to give advice that is in the customer’s best interest; avoid misleading statements; receive no more than reasonable compensation; and comply with applicable federal and state laws governing advice,” as the Department of Labor notice put it.

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Denied Care When Losing a Pregnancy: Pharmacies Refuse to Fill Needed Prescriptions

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: April 16, 2015 at 10:25 am

When Brittany Cartrett needed the drug Misoprostol to help her complete a miscarriage and avoid a more invasive surgical procedure, two separate pharmacies in central Georgia refused to fill the prescription. Cartrett suspects they refused because, in addition to treating miscarriage, Misoprostol is used for medication abortions.

Unfortunately, Cartrett is not alone. After she posted about her experience on Facebook other women came forward with similar stories. One woman wrote:

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Nebraska Becomes the Thirteenth State to Protect Pregnant Workers' Job Security

Posted by Abigail Bar-Lev, Fellow | Posted on: April 16, 2015 at 10:09 am

What do women in Nebraska now have in common with women in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Texas, and West Virginia? Like the women in those states, Nebraska women no longer have to fear for their jobs when they become pregnant.

That’s because earlier this week, Governor Ricketts signed the Nebraska Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (LB 267) into law that grants pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodations, so that no woman will have to choose between the health and safety of her pregnancy and her paycheck.

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If You Paid $1 in Income Tax, You Paid More than 15 Fortune 500 Companies — Put Together

Posted by Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security | Posted on: April 15, 2015 at 04:24 pm

Our friends at Citizens for Tax Justice have posted five facts you should know for Tax Day. We were particularly taken by their chart, which we pasted below. It shows that in 2014, 15 profitable Fortune 500 companies that made combined profits of over $23.5 billion paid zero federal income tax. Actually, they did better than that—they got tax refunds totaling $731 million!

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