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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

On This Hyde Anniversary, Be Bold

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: September 30, 2015 at 04:03 pm

My colleagues have written extensively about the most recent Census Bureau data on poverty in the U.S. in 2014, and you can read their blog posts here. After reading them, you’ll get how poverty is a very real issue in our country, especially for women and particularly for women of color.

But something that gets lost when talking data is what it actually means to be living in poverty. My colleagues Kelli and Alana have written about the stories of women living in poverty, and the common theme is just how much of a squeeze these women and families are facing.

Living in poverty means that every penny matters. It means that some months, there aren’t any pennies leftover. And without those pennies, it also means that health care is inaccessible because it just costs too much.


How My Life Turned Into a Parks & Recreation Episode

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: September 14, 2015 at 10:42 am

Last Tuesday night, I rewatched the Parks and Recreation episode where the main character, Leslie Knope, tries to add fluoride to the city’s water. But her city council nemesis blocks her efforts and instead proposes that a sweet sugary drink (“Drink-ems”) should replace their water supply. Even though Leslie’s plan was supported by the facts (like fluoride is not a threatening chemical and that sugar drinks will harm the city’s population), they didn’t get her anywhere. In the end, she was successful only because she dropped the facts and instead made fluoride into something else that was “cool” (“H2-FLOW”).

It was a hilarious episode. But what was supposed to be just satire turned into real life for me the very next day.


The Hyde Amendment Harms Latinas' Economic Security

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: August 05, 2015 at 11:15 am

I have written before about the harms wreaked by the Hyde Amendment, but let me do a quick recap. The Hyde Amendment is a provision that is attached to the annual appropriations law that funds the government. It denies insurance coverage for abortion (except in limited circumstances) to low-income women who are eligible for Medicaid.

The amount of money a woman has or doesn’t have should not prevent her from being able to have an abortion, and yet that is exactly what the Hyde Amendment does. Politicians have been interfering with low income women’s ability to make their own important health care decisions. 

This is not right.


Déjà Vu: House Tries Again to Make Reproductive Decisions a Fireable Offense

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: June 18, 2015 at 10:39 am

A couple of months ago, the House of Representatives passed a bill to undo a D.C. law, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDAA), that protects women from workplace discrimination based on their reproductive health decisions. Fortunately for D.C. residents, because the Senate did not take up the bill to undo D.C.’s law within the allowed time frame, the law took effect on May 2.

The D.C. law is quite simple really. It says that employees shouldn’t be fired for choosing if, when, and how to start a family. Why we would need this law in 2015 is more than troubling; but, unfortunately—even today—some bosses think that the personal reproductive health decisions we make are fair game for retaliation at work.

Now back to the House of Representatives. Never one to miss an opportunity to attack women’s health, the House has decided once again to try to stop the D.C. law. This time it is using its spending power to deny D.C. the ability to use its own local funds to implement this local law.


Good News for Military Servicemembers Who Use Birth Control

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: May 15, 2015 at 03:33 pm

The House of Representatives and Senate are currently working on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill that provides funds for the military. The bill includes provisions that support the health care needs for members of the Armed Services and their dependents.

This year, the House and Senate versions of the bill include provisions that would improve women servicemembers’ access to birth control. It provides for comprehensive counseling and education about contraception. And, the House bill would ensure a woman servicemember has access to the birth control she needs at all times, particularly when she is deployed.