What do mandatory delays, biased counseling requirements, stringent physical building standards, and restrictions on the use of telemedicine all have in common?
They are all examples of the kinds of medically unnecessary laws passed by state politicians that target abortion clinics, providers, and patients with the goal of eliminating access to abortion. Between 2011 and 2013, states have enacted over 200 restrictions on abortion, and they just keep coming. These restrictions mean that women and providers have to fight in court just to keep abortion clinics open. These restrictions mean that the entire Rio Grande Valley is without a single provider. That’s over 1 million people without access. These restrictions mean that a woman’s constitutional right depends on her zip code.
But women and members of Congress are fighting back. The Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Tammy Baldwin, would undo many of the dizzying number of restrictions passed in recent years. This bill would nullify laws that purport to protect women’s health but, in reality and intent, restrict women’s access to the reproductive health care they need and interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. Read more »
Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in McCullen v. Coakley, striking a Massachusetts law that protects patient access to abortion clinics by prohibiting anyone, regardless of their position on abortion, to come within 35 feet of a facility. I was an intern, clinic volunteer, and patient at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Rhode Island from 2012-2013 and had my own share of experiences passing protestors as I made my way to the clinic’s doors.
Many mornings as I walked to my internship at the clinic in Providence, a man wielding pamphlets plastered with pictures of aborted fetuses would hiss things like “reconsider your decision” or “two beating hearts go in but one is coming out” or “you’re killing your baby.” He positioned himself in a way that in order to get from the parking lot to the clinic entrance, I had to walk right by him. He never touched me, but both his tone and his actions were clearly meant to intimidate me and anyone else going into the clinic. Read more »
I started volunteering at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts in 2011 and was hired in 2012. When I worked there, I would always have the same routine. Every morning, I would grab a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts for my fifteen-minute walk. I would talk to a friend on the phone, until I would turn the corner right before the health center. Read more »
Last week, the D.C. Circuit heard oral argument in two challenges to the contraceptive coverage benefit brought by non-profit organizations with religious objections to contraceptives. And, on Tuesday, a Wyoming district court ruled that a group of non-profit organizations raising the same challenge can’t take the benefit away from their employees while the case moves forward. The argument at the D.C. Circuit and the decision by the Wyoming district court show how the courts are responding to employers’ attempts to let religion trump facts and legal responsibilities of the court.
So far in 2014, state lawmakers across the country have continued their campaign to restrict women’s access to abortion and other reproductive health services. Fortunately, however, the news is not all doom and gloom: One of the most noteworthy trends from the first quarter of 2014 is the record number of state bills introduced to repeal harmful laws and promote women’s reproductive health.
The Guttmacher Institute recently reported that more bills to protect access to abortion have been introduced thus far in 2014 than had been introduced in any year for the past 25 years. Two of those have already become law. The Governor of Vermont signed a law [PDF] repealing the state’s unconstitutional abortion ban, precluding the possibility of future attempts to enforce the archaic ban and relieving doctors of any lingering fear that providing an abortion could result in imprisonment. Five days later, the Governor of Utah signed a provision [PDF] exempting women seeking an abortion in certain emergency situations from the state’s onerous biased counseling and mandatory delay requirements. Although the Utah law is but a small step forward, taken together these victories should send a clear message to legislators nationwide that progressive policies on reproductive health can succeed. Read more »
Georgia is definitely on my mind. Or to be more precise, I’m worried about Georgia women. At every step, Georgia has resisted implementing provisions of the Affordable Care Act that would improve women’s health: The state has refused to expand Medicaid eligibility or establish its own state-run exchange. Georgia has, however, seized on a provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows states to prohibit insurance coverage of abortion in exchanges set up in their state.
Last week Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 98 [PDF] — a measure that will severely limit women’s access to safe and affordable abortion by banning abortion coverage in state employee health plans and private plans offered through the federal exchange operating in Georgia.
Women who purchased health plans through the exchange will now be denied the abortion coverage they paid for except in cases of extreme medical emergency. The law prohibits coverage of abortion even in cases where a woman has become pregnant due to rape or incest or where there is a severe fetal anomaly. Read more »
Go Google! Google announced this week that it is taking down deceptive advertisements by crisis pregnancy centers, or “CPCs,” anti-abortion facilities that target pregnant women seeking medical services and information about abortion. These facilities—which do not provide abortions and typically are not licensed medical clinics—frequently make false claims about the services they provide to lure in vulnerable women and shame them out of having an abortion. The Washington Post reports that Google reached its decision after an investigation by NARAL Pro-Choice America found evidence of CPCs blatantly misrepresenting that they provide abortions and other health care services in Google ads.
Women need access to accurate, unbiased medical information in order to make informed decisions about their pregnancies. Although some CPCs provide truthful information to women, many intentionally disseminate false propaganda to keep women from obtaining an abortion or contraceptives. CPCs have been known to tell women a host of untruths, including that birth control is ineffective and that abortion causes breast cancer, permanent psychological damage, and infertility. What’s worse, CPCs often use tactics like offering free ultrasounds and having their employees and volunteers wear medical scrubs to make them seem like legitimate medical providers. These insidious practices impede women’s ability to obtain timely and safe treatment and pose a substantial threat to women’s health. Because many women who think they may be pregnant first turn to the internet for information, search engines like Google are critical to CPCs’ efforts to get women in the door. Read more »
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 »
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 »
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 »