Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center

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

It Won’t Surprise You, But the House Wants to Allow Bosses to Fire Women for Their Personal Reproductive Health Decisions

Posted by Leila Abolfazli, Senior Counsel | Posted on: April 22, 2015 at 03:26 pm

We all know that the majority in the House of the Representatives doesn’t look too kindly on women’s constitutional right to privacy, which includes the right to use birth control and to have an abortion. Already four months into the new Congress, the majority has voted to permanently ban any federal insurance or health program from covering abortion except in very limited circumstances. It tried to pass an unconstitutional bill that would ban abortions after twenty-weeks but only failed to do so because of an internal disagreement about whether rape survivors must report their rape to get their abortions covered.

Why do these House members want to ban insurance coverage of reproductive health care and ban some abortions? Because they want to impose their own personal beliefs about birth control and abortion on the clear majority of the American population who does not hold similar views. They want to legislate women’s bodies and interfere in women’s reproductive health decisions.

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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].

Read more...

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.

Read more...

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.

Read more...