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Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel

Leila Abolfazli is Senior Counsel in the Health and Reproductive Rights Program at NWLC. She works on a range of issues involving the protection and expansion of reproductive rights at the federal level. Prior to joining the NWLC, Ms. Abolfazli was a Senior Associate at WilmerHale in Washington, D.C. She is a graduate of Emory University and Georgetown University Law Center.

My Take

Mayhem in the House of Representatives

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 22, 2015 at 01:25 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 Latest Controversy Over The Inadequate Rape/Incest Exception

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 21, 2015 at 07:59 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 05:19 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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And So It Begins — A New Congress Reigniting An Old Fight

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: January 08, 2015 at 04:44 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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38 Anniversaries Too Many: Time to End the Hyde Amendment

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: September 30, 2014 at 10:20 am

Anniversaries. I love celebrating anniversaries. Yay to Roe v. Wade, yay to Title IX, yay to 12 years with my husband. Bring on the flowers, cake, and happy dances.

But there is one anniversary where a dark cloud comes over the day. And that’s the anniversary of the Hyde Amendment.

What’s Hyde you say? It’s the restriction that’s passed every year for the past THIRTY-EIGHT years denying women with Medicaid health insurance coverage of abortion except in a few limited circumstances. Every year Congress decides that some women don’t deserve to decide for themselves what’s best for them and their families. Every year some members of Congress who don’t like abortion personally are withholding Medicaid coverage from qualified women, just to make it harder or even impossible for them to have an abortion.

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