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Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy

Sharon G. Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy, joined the Center in June 2012, and oversees the Center's work on reproductive health law and policy at the national level. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Levin was Vice President and General Counsel at the National Abortion Federation; a consultant for NARAL Pro-Choice America; and Director of Advocacy at the Washington Area Women's Foundation. Ms. Levin was also Co-Chief Counsel to Senator Charles E. Schumer and Special Assistant for Women's Issues and Legislative Counsel to Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey. Ms. Levin is an Adjunct Professor at American University's Washington College of Law, and holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and a B.A. in history from Columbia University.

My Take

Hobby Lobby: A "Perfect Storm" to Galvanize the Public

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: July 14, 2014 at 01:35 pm

Although I was expecting a strong public outcry after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, the depth and breadth of the outrage has surprised me. People who have never expressed an interest in women’s issues are posting about it on Facebook and asking me questions about the case. Friends who have a passing interest in reproductive rights have reached out to me to find out what they can do and where they can donate.

I think the reason for this wide-spread outrage is that in the Hobby Lobby decision, several different long-term attacks on individual liberties all come together. Just as three different weather fronts collided to make the 1991 “Perfect Storm” that is the subject of the book and film of the same name, three different “fronts” collide in the Court’s decision as well:


House Singles Out Women’s Health As a Bargaining Chip in the Debate Over the Government Shutdown

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: September 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm

While the rest of us were watching the season premiere of Saturday Night Live this weekend, the House passed a bill that holds women’s health hostage as a bargaining chip in the debate over shutting down the government.

It is such a typical move by the far-right politicians in the House that it almost plays out like a skit on SNL. They have become caricatures of themselves.

Specifically, late Saturday night, the House passed a continuing resolution that would exempt bosses from complying with the ACA’s Women’s Health Amendment if they oppose it for “religious or moral” reasons. This means that bosses could impose their religious beliefs on their employees, or even block their employees’ access to needed women’s health care for vague and undefined “moral” reasons. Female employees and dependents – just like men – are capable of making their own health decisions and must be allowed to do so without interference from their bosses.


Why Does Elisabeth Hasselbeck Think Ending Discrimination Against Women Means “Sticking It” to Men?

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: September 25, 2013 at 05:07 pm

Tuesday on Fox News, Elisabeth Hasselbeck did a segment in which she claimed that Obamacare “sticks it” to men because it has good benefits for women and children.

Particularly, she thought it was unfair that men would have to buy a benefit package that will include services they’ll “never” use:

  • Pediatric Dental and Vision: I think Hasselbeck has a point here. Why should any adult have to get a plan with this service? Let those pesky kids pay for their own darn insurance… oh, wait. This is for adults to use who have dependent children. Well, then Hasselbeck’s point must be that men do not have kids? No, that can’t be right…

One Year After Todd Akin Made His Infamous "Shut That Whole Thing Down Remark" Nothing's Changed

What changes after a politician gets caught using a lie as the basis for cruel and extreme policies, there is national outrage, and elections are lost (including his) because of it? 

Apparently, nothing. That's what our new report, ‘Shut That Whole Thing Down:’ A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape, discovered. 

One year ago today, Todd Akin made the statement that would outrage the public and ultimately torpedo his Senate campaign. In explaining his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape, he said, "It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." 

And what has happened since? In our survey of state and federal legislative action, we documented that politicians and political commentators continue to make the same remarks and they continue to introduce and enact legislation to stop women from getting abortion, including women who are pregnant due to rape.


Oral Arguments at the Virginia Sex Court

Posted by Sharon Levin, Director of Federal Reproductive Health Policy | Posted on: July 26, 2013 at 10:44 am

Following a proposal for a Virginia ban on oral and anal sex among consenting adults – heterosexual and homosexual alike – radio host Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association spoke out in its behalf. Unwilling to specify what he thought the punishment should be for violating the ban, Fischer did say that speeding and/or parking tickets could be issued to those who do. Having spent time in traffic court watching people challenge those tickets, I thought it might be enlightening to imagine ourselves spending a day in the Virginia Sex Court in the year 2015.

Bailiff: Case #1, the State of Virginia v. Andrews and Cooper.

Judge: Officer, please tell us what happened.

Officer C. Block: Your honor, on the evening of June 14th, the two defendants were found parked in a vehicle at lover’s lane. When I approached the vehicle, I witnessed the two defendants engaged in a “Crimes Against Nature” (“CAN”)-violation and issued them the appropriate citation.

Judge: Andrews and Cooper, what do you have to say for yourselves?

Andrews: Well, sir. Betty and I are home from college for the summer and just started dating.

Cooper: And it was only our second date so . . . . I just didn’t want to go past third base.

Judge: Young lady, don’t you know that third base has been outlawed in the state of Virginia? It is all the way or nothing.

Andrews: Yeah, my older brother has been telling girls that since before the law was re-enacted. But, we didn’t have any birth control so I didn’t bring that up.

Judge: No birth control!! Do you think that’s an excuse? Why, there’s birth control with no co-pay available under the health care . . . . [The judge’s clerk interrupts the Judge. They have a whispered conversation.] Oh, well, I’ve just been informed that the House of Representatives has finally succeeded in over-turning that law, and apparently they’ve managed to close all the Planned Parenthoods as well. You’ll just have to risk it like we had to in my day . . . you’ll be fine. My wife and I have been very happy and we became engaged under similar circumstances. Next case.