Good news from Arizona! Legislators there listened to women that their health is not up for debate! Politicians were attempting to make it more difficult for Arizona women to access insurance coverage of birth control by stripping away current protections in the state contraceptive equity law. They wanted to allow any employer with a religious objection – even the CEO of a for-profit corporation – to refuse to provide contraceptive coverage to employees. They also wanted to make it easier for those employers to fire a woman if they found out she obtained birth control on her own. Most egregious to the press and public, the bill would have forced women who work for those employers and need contraception for medical reasons to prove it. Read more »
Most people find it easy to fight against a cause whether they have experienced it or not, (eh hem: men on women's reproductive rights). Even when satires, which are meant to be humorous yet, raise awareness of how ridiculous politics can get, people get extremely outraged.
Being that I am constantly in the fight for equality for women, I sometimes have to remind myself to take things with a grain of salt. People are continuing to argue about our reproductive rights, most of these people being men. Well, how could you be against something you know nothing about personally?
I am extremely frustrated with the attacks on women's health and reproductive options made by ‘pro-life’ activists. It is bad enough they are depriving women of their freedom of choice, but they are pinning us against each other by making things pro-life versus pro-choice. It is possible to be pro-life AND pro-choice. Now, I have never experienced an abortion or a pregnancy, however, I was indeed a surprise to my parents.
My mother was Homecoming Queen of her high school, a varsity basketball star, and had a lot of promise to her future. She started off her life after high school by attending a Community College because of financial difficulties, which is when she met my father, who was 22 years older. Shortly after, she was pregnant.
Clearly, because of my writing to you today, my mother and father made the choice of bringing me into this world. This is also why I, myself, am pro-choice. Read more »
One of the claims that supporters of the Blunt Amendment have been making is that it would “restore conscience rights” that existed before the health care reform law. Let’s apply some of what I learned in law school about legislative language and take a look at the dictionary definition meaning of “restore.” “Restore” means “to give something back” or “to return something to previous condition.” So then, the supporters’ argument is that the Blunt Amendment gives back “conscience rights” that existed before the health care law, or it returns “conscience rights” to their previous condition before the health care law. The problem is, however, that the actual language in the Blunt Amendment creates a refusal right that would allow a health plan or employer to refuse to provide insurance coverage for any item or service required by the health care reform law. Before the health care reform law, no such refusal right existed.
Under current law, individuals and entities who wish to refuse a role in abortion services are protected by three different federal laws, the Church Amendments (42 U.S.C. § 300a-7), the Coats Amendment (42 U.S.C. § 238n), and the Weldon Amendment, which is attached to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill each year. The health care reform law explicitly said it would not have any effect on these laws, meaning these were the law of the land before the health care reform law and continue to be the law now. So, the Blunt Amendment doesn’t “restore” these rights because they never went away. What could the Blunt Amendment be about, then? Read more »
Last year, states passed a record 92 restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health services. Just last week, lawmakers in Virginia were poised to force women to have an invasive and unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion. And as we speak, the state of Texas is cutting reproductive health care services for hundreds of thousands of low-income women.
What other hurdles will they make women jump over to get the reproductive health care they need?
Today is our last weekly roundup for February, which has been an interesting month. In today’s roundup, I’ve got an updates on the two reproductive rights bills in Virginia I told you about last week, some info on an exciting new video series we’re launching, good news (!) from Maryland, new Civil Rights museums, the outcome of the tragic Yeardley Love murder case, and a segment from last week’s Saturday Night Live. Read more »
An article in today’s Wall Street Journal discusses the booming business of “fertility finance,” lenders that specialize in loans for fertility treatments. The article does a good job of illuminating some of the important issues around this industry, including the potential for predatory lending practices and whether doctors should be able to advertise a lender’s services if the doctor has invested in the company. Executives at these companies call them “recession-proof” because couples facing infertility will always want a baby whether the economy is booming or not. From an economic perspective, these companies are merely meeting a demand for access to fertility treatments among individuals who aren’t super-wealthy. I think there is an alternative answer to this demand that the article doesn’t address: insurance coverage of fertility treatments. Read more »
There has been a lot of press on the recent announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that it was finalizing the rule requiring coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptives with no co-pays or deductibles, and a lot of it hasn’t been positive. Most of the focus has been on the fact that the Administration chose not to expand the exemption for certain religious employers.
Take Michael Gerson’s and E.J. Dionne’s recent op-eds, for example. Both of them admonish President Obama for not expanding the religious exemption to entities like religiously-affiliated hospitals and universities, and Gerson says that the rule covers “abortifacients” which is just wrong. He also concludes that the decision on the final rule means that “war on religion is now formally declared.” The way these two see it, it should have been a no-brainer to expand the exemption. But wait just one minute, is this all the rule is about – religious institutions versus the Administration? Is there anything else that maybe we should be considering when analyzing this rule?
Oh right…. thetremendous health benefits of contraception. Oddly and sadly, these health benefits are blatantly ignored in all of the negative commentary (Dionne tips his hat just a bit by vaguely referring to how the rule protects “women’s rights”). So it got me thinking, maybe they just don’t understand the health benefits. Maybe I should take a moment to explain just how critical contraception is as a preventive health service. So Gerson, Dionne, and all of the others who ignore the real issue at stake, please take notes. Read more »
In 1976, Cora McRae needed to terminate her pregnancy for medical reasons, but she had very little money. She had health insurance through Medicaid, but under a provision of federal law known as the Hyde Amendment, federal Medicaid funds can not pay for abortions, including medically necessary abortions, though Medicaid covers other medically necessary expenses, including the costs of childbirth. McRae joined with other plaintiffs to challenge this law in court, arguing that by paying for childbirth expenses, but not for medically necessary abortion expenses, the government was unconstitutionally coercing her reproductive decisions and denying her right to choose to end her pregnancy. In 1980, the Supreme Court rejected McRae’s challenge to Medicaid’s failure to fund medically necessary abortions. “Although Congress has opted to subsidize medically necessary services generally, but not certain medically necessary abortions,” the Court wrote, “the fact remains that the Hyde Amendment leaves an indigent woman with at least the same range of choice in deciding whether to obtain a medically necessary abortion as she would have had if Congress had chosen to subsidize no health care costs at all.” In other words, refusing to provide Medicaid coverage for abortions did not represent unconstitutional coercion of a poor woman’s reproductive choices because, according to the Court, it was her poverty that constrained her choices, rather than any barriers the government had placed in her way. That she was poor and might be forced to make certain choices because of her poverty—like going through with a potentially dangerous pregnancy because she could not afford an abortion--wasn’t the government’s fault, the Court held. Read more »
Arriving at the National Women’s Law Center three months ago, I never anticipated just how sustained and systemic the efforts to dismantle women’s health and reproductive rights had become. Sure, I had paid attention to the Planned Parenthood defunding fight (which included the “trade” for a ban on DC funding of abortion services and the “this is not meant to be a factual statement” debacle) and had heard about HR 3 and the disgusting “forcible rape” debate. Indeed, it was those events that informed my decision to work on reproductive rights issues full time. But even though I was aware of what was going on, it was only when I became involved with the issues on a daily basis where I gained a whole new perspective on just how far those who oppose reproductive rights are going in order to completely unravel women’s rights. And it got me thinking, if so many bad things can happen in just my three months here, what will 2012 look like?
So in order to be prepared for this year, I decided to give a quick review of my first three months – a recap of the numerous anti-choice measures that cropped up in just the final months of 2011. Because when you lay it all out, you can’t ignore how serious these efforts really are.
In my very first week, the House of Representatives voted on HR 358, which literally would allow women to die at hospitals instead of getting the emergency care they need if it included abortion care. Seriously? Read more »
Anti-abortion advocates were in rare form during the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution hearing on H.R. 3541, the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011 ("PRENDA"). The bill would criminalize race and sex selective abortions. Throughout the hearing pro-PRENDA committee members shamelessly misappropriated and exploited civil rights and women's rights history in their crusade to rebrand their "anti-choice" agenda as a "civil rights" agenda. But this proved to be no easy task for pro-PRENDA committee members who unfortunately lacked knowledge of and respect for civil rights and women's rights. This led to several major offenses that outraged the civil rights community. And it revealed these committee members' true colors, exposing PRENDA for what it really is — just another attempt to turn back the clock on women's access to safe, legal abortion care.
Offense #1: Misappropriating the Names of Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglass