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Religious Refusals — More Like Discrimination

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court recognized that a woman has a right to make fundamental decisions affecting her health and future, including whether or not to obtain an abortion. In the decades since Roe, women and their families have come to rely on the right to an abortion.

Today, however, the well-established right to an abortion is being attacked under the guise of religious freedom, putting a woman’s ability to obtain a safe, legal abortion in jeopardy. The first refusal law was enacted shortly after Roe, allowing individuals and entities to refuse to provide abortions or sterilizations due to religious beliefs. Since then, nearly every state has adopted a comparable law. Recent years have seen an increase in legislative activity related to refusal laws, as well as an expansion of refusal rights. For example, in some states medical professionals can refuse to provide referrals to women, pharmacists can refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, and hospitals can refuse to offer health care services to which it is opposed. Read more »

Mayhem in the House of Representatives

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 Real Cost of Abortion Restrictions

On Tuesday, while President Obama reminded us, “[T]hat every women should have access to the health care she needs,” I was returning home from the premiere of Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign. Some of the stories were heartbreaking and some were amazingly uplifting, but they all had one thing in common—each woman made the decision that was best for her and her family. Read more »

Fighting to Protect Roe v. Wade – 42 Years Later

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. In Roe, the Court recognized for the first time that the constitutionally protected right to privacy encompasses a woman’s right to decide if, and when, she becomes a parent. 

As a twenty-five year old woman, who has only lived in a post-Roe world, it can be difficult to imagine the landscape of women’s health and reproductive rights issues prior to this decision. I cannot fathom a world where abortion is illegal, forcing women to resort to dangerous back alley abortions.

Even though Roe was decided 42 years ago and even though it’s the only reality I know, the fight to protect the right is more critical now than ever. In Texas, for example, an extreme anti-abortion law shut down more than half of abortion clinics. There are now huge parts of Texas where women no longer have access to these services. Read more »

The Latest Controversy Over The Inadequate Rape/Incest Exception

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 »

Quiz: And The Oscar Goes To...Movies About Abortion

This year’s Oscar nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 15th.  Like many feminist movie fans, I’ll be waiting to learn which movies that I loved — those featuring strong and interesting women — have garnered a nomination.  Obvious Child, the romantic comedy in which Jenny Slate’s character has an abortion, was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards this year and although a very long-shot for the Oscars, made several “Best of 2014” lists.  

While we are waiting to learn which movies have a chance for the golden statuette, here is a quiz about some movies that include women having abortions that have either been nominated for or won Oscars in the past:  Read more »

And So It Begins — A New Congress Reigniting An Old Fight

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 »

Sigh of Relief! Arizona’s Restriction on Medication Abortion Remains on Hold

It’s that time of the year – celebrating the holidays with parties, gift-giving, and awkward holiday sweater wearing.

And now women in Arizona have at least one more reason to celebrate – on Monday, the Supreme Court declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision blocking a law that would severely restrict abortion access in Arizona. Leaving the Ninth Circuit’s decision intact means women in Arizona will continue to have access to high-quality care that includes medication abortion, which women have been using safely and legally for over 10 years.

Whew! Read more »

The One Mississippi Abortion Clinic Stays Open, But…

Good news - the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit just refused to reconsider a panel’s earlier decision to block a Mississippi law that would have closed the state’s only abortion clinic. The law required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and was meant to — and would have — forced the sole clinic in the state to shut its doors. But the panel said the law went too far and was unconstitutional — the full court’s decision not to rehear the case means that the clinic stays open. This is great news for Mississippi women who will continue to have access to abortion in their state.

But…. Read more »

1 in 3 Women Have Abortions. It’s Okay, They Know What They’re Doing

Being an abortion provider is not easy. On top of the risk and stigma, there is an unprecedented amount of regulation that impacts the day-to-day work, more than in any other line of healthcare. Between 2010 and 2013, more abortion regulations were passed in the U.S. than in the decades prior. In my former state of North Carolina, House Bill 854, also known as the “Woman’s Right to Know Act” [PDF] went in to effect in October 2011. The law imposed 24 hour waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, and state scripted counseling for women in North Carolina seeking abortion. It forced providers to state medically ambiguous information about an unproven link between abortion and future fertility, and forced patients to listen to the description of an ultrasound, even if they did not want to. It also required medical providers to “inform” patients seeking abortion that child support and/or government assistance may be available to them if they carried their pregnancy to term. At the time, I worked at a women’s health clinic that provided abortion services. Read more »