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Ladies, this Lawmaker Thinks You're the Hostess With the Mostess

Forget the cheese and crackers at your next dinner party: one lawmaker has a new vision for what it means to host.

In the most recent addition to the ever-growing list of Ridiculous Things Politicians Say About Women’s Health, a Virginia State Senator took to Facebook after receiving a message from women's health advocates asking him to support "access to [a] full range of reproductive health options — including preventing unintentional pregnancies, raising healthy children, and choosing safe, legal abortion”.  His reply?

You can count on me to never get in the way of you "preventing" an unintentional pregnancy." I'm not actually sure what that means, because if it's "unintentional" you must have been trying to prevent it. And, I don't expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive. However, once a child does exist in your womb, I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child's host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it to remain alive.

Momentarily putting aside the eerie, science-fiction feel of the term “host”, this statement shines light on a dangerous belief that many lawmakers seem to share. Namely, that women are primarily reproductive vessels instead of, you know, fellow human beings.   Read more »

3 Reasons Why Roe v. Wade Should Matter to You as an Asian American

Growing up in a traditional Korean American household, my mother didn’t really know how to talk about reproductive health issues with me and my sister. I never got the sex talk until my junior year of college and the conversation went a little like this:

Mom: You know, you should always use a condom.
Me: ...
Mom: Your sister talks to you about those things right? Always use a condom, okay?
Me: … OH MY GOD MOM OKAY!
Mom: I mean you don’t have sex anyway, right? Don’t have sex, okay? But if you do, use a condom.
Me: ………. *slinks down into chair*

My mom is certainly not very graceful when talking about sex. Reproductive health issues are not regularly discussed in young people’s curriculum in South Korea and were even more hush hush during my mother’s generation. But I have learned that to be informed is to have control of your own body and I’m thankful that being educated in America has provided me accurate information to take control of my reproductive health and life. I have learned the importance of having affordable access to contraception and there is a peace of mind that in the United States, because of Roe v. Wade, abortion, should I ever need one, will be left to the decision of me and my doctor. However as of late, there are increasingly more restrictions being set into place that makes it more difficult for women to have access to abortion. Some states have even enacted sex selective abortion bans that specifically subject Asian Americans to more scrutiny. Here are 3 reasons why access to a safe and legal abortion should matter to you as an Asian American: Read more »

All Women Deserve Access to Abortion

Forty-one years ago Roe v. Wade made clear that women have a fundamental right to choose when and whether to have children. But, today, as some states restrict abortion, many women find themselves unable to exercise this fundamental right. Women of color and low-income women, who have never had equal access to abortion, bear the brunt of these restrictions. Seventy-percent of low income women who obtained an abortion report that they would have preferred to have the abortion earlier. Waiting periods and required ultrasounds force low-income women to take additional time off of work and find child care and transportation. For many women, these can be insurmountable obstacles. One study found that after Texas enacted its waiting period and ultrasound requirements, women had to wait an average of 3.7 days between their initial visit and the abortion. The wait times were primarily caused by scheduling difficulties. Women traveled an average of 84 miles, round-trip and incurred an additional $146 in travel expenses, child care costs and lost wages.  Dr. Willie Parker, who has traveled from Chicago to Jackson, Mississippi twice a month to work at the state’s sole abortion clinic recently told Salon, “The women who are disproportionately affected by these cumbersome laws are poor women of color . . . There is virtually no financial support because of the Hyde Amendment. Women who are on Medicaid or public assistance cannot use that money for their care.” Read more »

Pure Michigan: Great Lakes, Lighthouses, and…Rape Insurance?

As a Michigander living in DC, I am a constant, vocal ambassador for my home state. My apartment is decked out in University of Michigan paraphernalia and mitten-state décor. I never fail to get misty-eyed at the Pure Michigan commercials, the Tim Allen-narrated, nostalgia-laden tourism campaign.

But the Michigan legislature’s recent move to ban almost all abortion coverage in all private insurance plans, inside and outside the marketplaces set up by the new health care law—and without exception for rape and incest—is pure BS.

This bill, which, because of a quirky Michigan law, is veto-proof by the Governor (who vetoed a similar measure last year), threatens to do real harm to Michigan women. In her courageous statement on the chamber floor, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer shared her own story of being raped while she was in college, and noted that if she had become pregnant as a result, she would not have had coverage under this measure. Read more »

U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Opportunity to Stand Up for Texas Women

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a devastating ruling Tuesday in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Abbott, refusing to block a law that is forcing one-third of Texas’ abortion clinics to stop offering vital services.

Back in July of 2013, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law H.B. 2, which, among other things, requires abortion providers to obtain unnecessary admitting privileges at local hospitals. Almost immediately, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union joined forces with a local Texas firm and filed a lawsuit on behalf of more than a dozen Texas health care providers and their patients.

The district court judge found the restriction both unconstitutional and unnecessary and prevented the restriction from going into effect. His ruling was a clear victory for Texas families, yet was almost immediately reversed by a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided that decreasing the number of physicians available to perform abortions and increasing the cost of abortions was not an “undue burden” on the women of Texas, and allowed the law to remain in effect while the matter is fully litigated in the courts. Read more »

ABQ, I❤U

Yesterday, voters in Albuquerque, New Mexico took to the polls and voted down an attempt to ban abortion in their city.

The ballot measure was being pushed by opponents of abortion who targeted Albuquerque in a novel attempt to put an abortion ban on a city ballot. They hoped to close the city’s clinics, and also wanted to create a new model of attacks on abortion – going city by city, across the country.

But ABQ voters shut that whole thing down. Voters rejected the attempt to ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, recognizing that women need access to later abortion for a variety of reasons, and that the families in those situations need safe and legal medical care, not government interference. Read more »

Oklahoma’s Decision Protecting Abortion Rights Left Untouched By Supreme Court

Early Monday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the case of Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice. At issue in Cline was an Oklahoma law which effectively bans a woman’s ability to terminate an early pregnancy through the use of medication abortion. Medication abortion is both safe and legal – and has been since its FDA approval over a decade ago. For a number of women, it is also the preferred method of abortion. One in four women who have an early abortion decides on this method. Not only is medication abortion safe and legal, it is also protects women’s privacy by allowing them to complete the abortion in the comfort of their own homes rather than in a medical office.

Because the scope of the law was somewhat ambiguous, there was a question as to whether or not the statute truly bans medication abortion. Last December, the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a decision on the law. Without addressing the law’s scope, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said that the law was an impermissible restriction on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion and therefore violated the U.S. Constitution. In an effort to keep up the fight, Oklahoma appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Read more »

State Politicians Continue to Play Politics with Women’s Health, Threatening a Woman’s Right to Abortion

This blog post originally appeared on ACSBlog.

Politicians in Ohio have gone to great lengths to end abortion in their state. They’re not taking the blatantly unconstitutional route of North Dakota and Arkansas and just banning abortion outright in an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade. Rather, politicians in Ohio are doing what they can to make it as difficult and expensive as possible to get an abortion. They are also passing measures with the intent of coercing, shaming, and judging a woman seeking an abortion. Make no mistake: these attempts are just as harmful as an all-out ban on abortion, and are increasingly encroaching upon a woman’s constitutional right to abortion. 

A pregnant woman in Ohio who decides on abortion faces multiple, politician-imposed, medically unnecessary steps. She must receive information intended to dissuade her from her decision and shame her for the deeply personal decision she has made. This now includes forcing her to visit the clinic so doctors can test for a fetal heartbeat and offer her the chance to hear it, and forcing her to listen to a description of the odds of carrying the pregnancy to term. She must then wait 24 hours before obtaining the medical care she originally sought. As an Ohio woman seeking an abortion said, “It’s a hard decision for anybody to make. To make it more difficult by passing these laws and making women feel guilty is terrible.” (And these new requirements are only part of the numerous abortion restrictions that became law in Ohio this year).

Unfortunately, these efforts in Ohio are part of a national trend. Abortion opponents have continued to push the boundaries in an attempt to further challenge the core constitutional protections for a woman’s decision to have an abortion. In the last three years, states have passed a record number of abortion restrictions. These include requirements that a woman undergo a medically unnecessary, physically invasive ultrasound before obtaining an abortion, prohibiting a woman from purchasing a comprehensive health insurance plan that includes coverage of abortion, and imposing unnecessary, costly, and burdensome requirements on the clinics and doctors who provide abortions in an effort to shut them down.

Why this uptick in anti-abortion legislation? Read more »

The Hyde Amendment Hurts Women

Just because something has been policy for many years doesn’t make it a good policy. I’ve got a whole list I could go through (not letting women vote, not letting gay people marry, the whole “separate but equal” thing). Add to that list the Hyde Amendment.

What’s the Hyde Amendment? It is an amendment added to the yearly federal funding bill that bans Medicaid from covering abortions with federal money except in the narrow cases where a woman is a survivor of rape or incest or when her life is endangered. Added 37 years ago by Representative Henry Hyde, this harmful rider has been hurting low income women ever since. Read more »

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. Read more »