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Finding Griswold's Missing Women

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: June 03, 2015 at 09:56 am

Fifty years ago this week, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution did not permit a state to prohibit the use of contraceptives within marriage or the provision of contraceptives to married people. Finding a “zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees,” the majority concluded that the contraception bans unconstitutionally intruded on marriage, which the Court described as “a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.” Seven years later, in Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Court extended the constitutional right to use birth control to unmarried couples.

By guaranteeing legal access to birth control, the Griswold decision opened the door for dramatic changes for women and for our society. As the Supreme Court has since observed, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”  In fact, research has shown that availability of reliable birth control has been a key driver of the increases in U.S. women’s education, labor force participation, average earnings, and the narrowing in the wage gap between women and men achieved over recent decades.

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Texas Politicians Target Neglected Teens

Posted by Kelli Garcia, Senior Counsel | Posted on: June 02, 2015 at 09:29 am

I grew up in a small Texas town of about 7,000 people, 30 miles from the closest city. There was no public transportation and, really, no way for a teenager without a car to get around except to rely on parents and friends. The courthouse was in the next town over. Some of my high school classmates lived an hour or more away—on ranches and farms and in houses and trailers down country roads with miles between neighbors or in little communities of less than 200 people that couldn’t even support a gas station. Getting into town from these places could be an ordeal, getting into the city to see an abortion provider, near impossible.

So trust me when I tell you that Texas HB 3994 puts in place insurmountable barriers for many Texas adolescents seeking an abortion. Last Friday, this dangerous and extreme bill passed its last hurdle before heading to the governor’s desk . Once it becomes law, it will threaten the safety and health of Texas adolescents.

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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Civil Rights

Posted by Abigail Bar-Lev, Fellow | Posted on: June 01, 2015 at 04:27 pm

Today the Supreme Court issued a major victory for civil rights in its 8-1 EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores [PDF] decision.  More surprising than the favorable decision or the fact that it was nearly unanimous, is the author of the majority opinion: Justice Scalia. According to Justice Scalia and the majority of the Court, Abercrombie may have violated a job applicant’s civil rights when it rejected her application because she wore a hijab, even though her religious beliefs never came up in the interview.

The case focused on Samantha Elauf, a practicing Muslim who had applied for a sales position with Abercrombie Kids. Following an interview with the store manager, who rated her as qualified for hire, the store manager was concerned that Samantha’s head scarf might violate the store’s Look Policy, which prohibited employees from wearing “caps.” The district manager told the store manager that all headwear, religious or not, violates the store’s Look Policy, and directed the store manager to therefore not hire Samantha. Samantha filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the EEOC sued Abercrombie on Samantha’s behalf for violating her religious rights under Title VII.

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Working for a "Shift" on Abortion Stigma in Texas

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: May 29, 2015 at 04:34 pm

As many of you know, due to several extreme anti-abortion bills, over half the abortion clinics in Texas have been forced to close. Amy Hagstrom Miller, who led the fight against the Texas laws, is still fighting. She has just launched a new non-profit called Shift, because, as she says, she is “so over” abortion stigma.

Amy is the founder of Whole Women’s Health, a group of feminist clinics that provides holistic health care for women — including abortion. Whole Women’s Health was founded in Texas, and for the past few decades Amy has been at the forefront of the fight for women’s health and constitutional rights in that state.

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AB 775: One More Reason to Love California

Posted by Rachel Easter, Fellow | Posted on: May 29, 2015 at 02:15 pm

California is the best. I may be biased because I used to live there, but it really is a phenomenal state.

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Proposed Regulation Tells Federal Contractors: Play by the Rules

Yesterday the Obama administration released a proposed rule to implement the Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which was signed by President Obama in 2014. The proposed rule is the first step toward making good on the executive order’s message to private contractors: if you have the honor of doing business with the federal government, you must follow the law.

This proposed rule outlines steps the Administration will take to ensure that federal contractors that violate our nation’s labor and employment laws start playing by the rules again. In an effort to protect the millions of workers employed by private companies who have been awarded government contracts, the executive order required federal contractors to report their labor and employment law violations.

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Texas Considers a Bill Banning Insurance Coverage of Abortion

Posted by Rachel Easter, Fellow | Posted on: May 26, 2015 at 10:20 am

Texans are a competitive group, but lately Texas politicians are seeking a record no one should want—the worst state for women. Right now, Texas is ranked among the six worst states for women but if Texas politicians have their way, it may soon be the worst. Thanks to budget cuts and abortion restrictions, Texans already have a hard time accessing reproductive health care—from cervical cancer screenings to abortion. Now, the Texas House is set to vote on SB 575, an extreme coverage ban that would prevent all private insurance plans in the state from providing coverage of abortion as part of a comprehensive health plan. If this bill passes it will make it even harder for women in Texas to get an abortion.

Imposing Financial Barriers that Endanger Women’s Health

Currently, insurance companies in Texas can cover abortion as part of a comprehensive insurance plan. In the absence of any ban, most private plans do provide coverage. But SB 575 will take that coverage away from many women and leave them to shoulder the cost of abortion alone.

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I Know All About The ACA’s Breastfeeding Benefit, and I Couldn’t Get Services Covered

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: May 26, 2015 at 10:00 am

Last week, the National Women’s Law Center issued the third report in a series examining insurance plan compliance with the Affordable Care Act, State of Breastfeeding Coverage: Health Plan Violations of the Affordable Care Act. Previous reports on women’s health coverage and birth control coverage found extensive violations of the law. The third report examines insurance plan noncompliance with the ACA’s breastfeeding benefits and comes to similar conclusions.

The ACA Is a Huge Step Forward

The ACA made dramatic improvements in women’s health coverage. The ACA ensures that health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against women, and requires plans to offer women coverage for maternity care and prescription drugs. And they must cover preventive services, such as breastfeeding supports and supplies and birth control, without any copayments, deductibles or coinsurance.

Health Insurance Plans Must Comply With the Law

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