January 10, 2013 — Our monthly quote round up compiles notable comments from key stakeholders in women's health. In today's edition, we feature quotes on the federal paid leave insurance legislation, legal fights over contraceptive coverage access and more.
"Choosing between your loved ones and your career and your future is a choice no one should have to make." -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), on legislation (S 1810, HR 3712) that would extend paid family and medical leave insurance to all U.S. workers (National Journal, 12/12/13). The bill -- called the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act -- would ensure up to 12 weeks paid leave to all eligible workers, regardless of company size, duration of employment or number of hours worked (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/13/13).
"A careful review of the matter should persuade Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor and her Supreme Court colleagues ... that the alleged threat to religious liberty is nonexistent." -- A New York Times editorial, criticizing Sotomayor's decision to grant a temporary injunction against the federal contraceptive rules to an order of nuns that operates nursing homes (New York Times, 1/2). The federal government has argued that the group, called the Little Sisters of the Poor, has no basis to challenge the rules because its insurer is classified as a church organization and, therefore, does not have to provide the coverage (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/3).
"I honestly believe we have shifted the momentum." -- NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, on the outlook for the abortion-rights debate in 2014. Hogue and other women's health advocates point to various developments from 2013 as signs that the political landscape and public opinion will work in their favor in 2014 (New York Times, 1/3).
"Ordinary people are not following hospital mergers and acquisitions." -- Lois Uttley, director of MergerWatch, on the threat of Catholic hospital growth to women's access to reproductive health services. The number of such hospitals, which follow religious directives that ban elective abortion, sterilization and contraception, increased by 16% from 2001 to 2011 in the U.S., according to a recent report from MergerWatch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ProPublica, 12/18/13).
"The law has no rational relationship to the states' asserted interest in maternal health." -- Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Janet Crepps, arguing a case challenging the constitutionality of a Texas requirement that physicians who provide abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals (Bloomberg Businessweek, 1/6). Although the law forced several clinics to immediately end abortion services when it took effect, the state has argued that it does not place an undue burden on a woman's right to an abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/7).
"Abstinence-only programs fail to address the challenge of unplanned pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections among our youth, which have reached a critical level." -- Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), on legislation (HR 3774) that would eliminate federal grants for state-based, abstinence-only sex education programs. Lee noted that despite recommendations from the Institute of Medicine in the National Academy of Sciences to end the program, the government has spent almost $2 billion on such grants since 1996 ("Floor Action," The Hill, 12/17/13).
"I want everyone to have every tool in their tool-box to be able to have a family, when and if they want to. Any of those strategies are legitimate strategies. That includes abortion." -- Abortion researcher Tracy Weitz, describing the importance of rigorous scientific research in the abortion-rights debate. Her findings on the safety of abortion procedures helped support legislation to expand abortion access in California, while other studies have shed light on the negative impact of abortion restrictions on women's access to services (ProPublica, 1/8).