National Partnership for Women & Families

Around the Blogosphere

Featured Blog: Protecting Access to Medication Abortion: A Good Option for Women

Bryan HowardBy Bryan Howard, President, Planned Parenthood Arizona

Women's health care opponents have targeted medication abortion since it became available in the United States more than a decade-and-a-half ago. As I think about this aggression, at least three tragic results come to mind.

First, these barriers are incredibly mean-spirited because many, many women managing unintended pregnancy truly appreciate medication abortion. They have told me how they feel more in control of their own care, and that medication abortion feels more “organic.” More »


November 7, 2014

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"Tennessee's Extreme Anti-Choice Amendment Puts Abortion Further out of Reach in the South," Katie McDonough, Salon: While "[v]oters in North Dakota and Colorado overwhelmingly rejected personhood measures that would have stripped women of their constitutional rights by giving legal protections to fertilized eggs," Tennessee voters approved a measure (Amendment 1) that "will potentially have equally devastating consequences for women," McDonough writes. The measure removes from the state constitution "language affirming a woman's right to privacy in making decisions about her pregnancy and giving lawmakers even more power to restrict abortion," McDonough explains. She notes the "consequences could be devastating for Tennesseans, but also for others from neighboring states" with abortion restrictions that require women "to cross state lines to access basic care" (McDonough, Salon, 11/5).


November 7, 2014

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"Personhood: Coming to a City Near You," Robin Marty, Slate's "XX Factor": "'Personhood' -- the granting of legal rights and protection from the moment a sperm penetrates an egg -- has once more failed to pass any popular, statewide votes," with voters rejecting such measures "in Colorado, where backers tried to disguise Amendment 67 as a fetal homicide law," and "in North Dakota, where supporters attempted to portray that state's [Measure 1] as just a constitutional change to strengthen anti-abortion state restrictions already in place," Marty writes. Nonetheless, personhood "advocates remain undaunted" and are now focusing on county- and city-level measures, she adds. According to Marty, "moving to a city-by-city strategy" allows personhood supporters to "target just the places where actual abortions are being performed" (Marty, "XX Factor," Slate, 11/5).

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"Tennessee's Extreme Anti-Choice Amendment Puts Abortion Further out of Reach in the South," Katie McDonough, Salon: While "[v]oters in North Dakota and Colorado overwhelmingly rejected personhood measures that would have stripped women of their constitutional rights by giving legal protections to fertilized eggs," Tennessee voters approved a measure (Amendment 1) that "will potentially have equally devastating consequences for women," McDonough writes. The measure removes from the state constitution "language affirming a woman's right to privacy in making decisions about her pregnancy and giving lawmakers even more power to restrict abortion," McDonough explains. She notes the "consequences could be devastating for Tennesseans, but also for others from neighboring states" with abortion restrictions that require women "to cross state lines to access basic care" (McDonough, Salon, 11/5).


November 4, 2014

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"Will Colorado and North Dakota Voters Criminalize Abortion on Tuesday?" Dani McClain, The Nation blogs: "Proponents of [a] personhood initiative on the ballot in [Colorado], one of two nationwide that voters will consider Tuesday," argue that Amendment 67 will protect life and not affect abortion rights, but "abortion rights advocates and others concerned with the health and wellbeing of women cry foul," McClain writes. She notes that "Tuesday won't be the first time Colorado voters are asked to vote on personhood," with voters rejecting similar measures in 2008 and 2010, and recent polling "suggests that just over a third of Coloradans will vote yes" on this year's measure. According to McClain, "Voters appear similarly split in North Dakota, where they'll decide on Measure 1, which aims to protect the 'right to life of every human being at any stage of development.'" McClain writes that anyone interested in "how anti-choice advocates are working to ban abortion should keep their eyes on these states Tuesday" (McClain, The Nation blogs, 10/31).

What others are saying about politics and elections:

~ "Tackling Myths vs. Facts on Tenn. Abortion Measure," Anita Wadhwani, USA Today.

~ "Repro Wrap: Abortion Access Dwindles as Election Day Looms and Other News," Robin Marty, Care2.

~ "Nope, This Will Not Be the Next Year of the Woman. Not Even Close," Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post's "The Fix."

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"Medicaid Expansion in North Carolina? Let's Talk About Infant Mortality and Maternal Health," Emma Akpan, RH Reality Check: "Maternal and infant health should be made more prominent in the movement to advance Medicaid expansion in states across the country, and women should be on the front lines in these discussions, because while our concerns are not being addressed women and their infants are dying," Akpan writes. Akpan argues that North Carolina's " alarming infant mortality rate ... can be seen as a direct result of women not having access to quality health care even before they become pregnant." She adds, "If North Carolina lawmakers are truly concerned about the lives of women and children, they would remember that when women go without health coverage, they have a harder time having healthy babies" (Akpan, RH Reality Check, 11/3).

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"North Carolina is Fighting To Enact One of the Country's Most Condescending Abortion Laws," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Attorneys for the state of North Carolina are asking a federal appeals court to reinstate a law that "requires doctors to describe ultrasounds in detail immediately before allowing their patients to proceed with an abortion," Culp-Ressler writes. The state maintains that it "has a legitimate interest in protecting the life of the fetus," while opponents of the law believe the "policy is a particularly egregious overreach into women's personal medical decisions, even as 'informed consent' measures become increasingly popular on the state level," Culp-Ressler explains. The plaintiffs -- including the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union -- also argue that the state is unconstitutionally forcing physicians to convey the state's antiabortion-rights position to patients. Culp-Ressler notes that while some abortion patients might want to view an ultrasound image, research has shown that being forced by the state to have one -- rather than making an elective decision -- "'may have negative psychological and physical effects'" and that ultrasounds do not change women's minds about wanting an abortion (Culp-Ressler, "Think Progress," Center for American Progress, 10/31).

October 31, 2014

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"Pennsylvania May Drop Birth Control Coverage for Thousands of Low-Income Women," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Women's health advocates in Pennsylvania are concerned that Gov. Tom Corbett (R) will let a "special Medicaid program" that provides "free reproductive health coverage" to low-income state residents expire on Dec. 31 "without ensuring that [beneficiaries] can maintain uninterrupted access to their birth control," Culp-Ressler writes. The program, SelectPlan for Women, "is essentially an experiment in putting Medicaid dollars toward women of reproductive age, hoping that preventing their unplanned pregnancies will ultimately lower health costs," she writes, noting that it provides "birth control, emergency contraception, breast exams, Pap smears, and STD treatment at no cost to women whose incomes fall below 214 percent of the federal poverty line." However, Corbett has not yet indicated if he will apply for an extension of the program, and, according to media reports, "women's health groups in the state have been told to prepare for SelectPlan's termination," she writes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/29).

What others are saying about contraception:

~ "Why More Women and Doctors Should Consider This Kind of Birth Control," Marjorie Greenfield, Huffington Post blogs.

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"Abortion Options in North Dakota Are Dwindling," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress'  "Think Progress": A North Dakota State Supreme Court decision that requires physicians "to follow the federal recommendations for administering [medication abortion] sounds logical on the surface," but it actually "requires doctors to adhere to the FDA's outdated protocol for administering the abortion pill" even though "women have been safely taking [the off-label version] for years," Culp-Ressler writes. "In reality, this type of requirement often functions as a back-door ban on medication abortion -- which is exactly what's playing out in North Dakota, where women no longer have this option for terminating a first-trimester pregnancy," she writes, noting that the state's sole abortion clinic has stopped providing medication abortion. She writes that other states have enacted medication abortion restrictions that have "sparked similar legal challenges," suggesting that the issue "could make its way up to the Supreme Court" (Culp-Ressler, "Think Progress," Center for American Progress, 10/30).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "North Carolina Doubles Down on Shaming Women Who Seek Abortions," Andrew Beck, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights."

~ "Tennessee's Amendment 1 is a 'Personhood' Referendum -- for Pregnant Women," Farah Diaz-Tello/Cherisse Scott, RH Reality Check.

~ "Driving to an Abortion Clinic in Texas is Really Expensive," Jenny Kutner, Salon.


October 21, 2014

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"New Report Shows How the 'Pregnancy Penalty' Drives Economic Inequality," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing: "[T]he 'bias and inflexibility towards women in the workplace that starts when they become pregnant and snowballs into lasting economic disadvantages' is driving gender inequality and overall economic inequality" in New York City, according to a report from A Better Balance, Dusenbery writes. Specifically, the report critiques the "pregnancy penalty," which results from "both 'blatant discrimination' against pregnant workers ... and lack of workplace policies -- like paid family leave and flexible schedules -- to make it easier to juggle both a job and children at the same time -- particularly for poor families," Dusenbery writes. She notes that the penalty drives "overall economic inequality" by keeping "families on the treadmill of poverty" and adds that A Better Balance has called on New York lawmakers to address the issue through legislation (Dusenbery, Feministing, 10/20).

October 17, 2014

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"Polling Confirms That Voters See Abortion Access as an Economic Issue for Women," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": A majority of voters see abortion "as a mainstream policy that's inextricably linked to women's financial stability," according to a new poll released by the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Culp-Ressler writes. The poll surveyed "voters in New York and Pennsylvania, both states where lawmakers have proposed broad legislative agendas with several policies intended to advance women's rights." The findings suggest that the "legislative agendas were very popular with voters in both" states, with many of them saying "they see abortion as one piece of the larger push to help women lead fuller lives," Culp-Ressler notes. According to NIRH President Andrea Miller, the results also "should be a 'wake up call for elected officials' who insist on separating abortion issues from financial issues, even though that's out of step with their constituents' views on the subject," Culp-Ressler writes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/16).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions and access:

~ "The Hidden Costs of Abortion Restrictions," Carole Joffe, RH Reality Check.

~ "This Year's Most Outrageous Anti-Abortion Strategy," Dahlia Lithwick, Slate's "Jurisprudence."

~ "Supreme Court Surprises Everyone, Allows Texas Abortion Clinics To Reopen. For Now." Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."

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"Pregnant Texans are Being Charged With Crimes That Don't Exist," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: Despite Texas' "fetal homicide" law clearly stating that a "pregnant person cannot be charged with injury to [her] own fetus," prosecutors in West Texas have not stopped "charging women with reckless child endangerment for ingesting controlled substances while pregnant," Grimes writes. Grimes notes that while "these erroneous [child] endangerment charges don't stick," women "are nearly always persuaded to plead guilty to possession or other drug-related offenses, which often carry heftier penalties of incarceration" and that "judges may take the child endangerment charges into consideration as well." Grimes writes that these "attempts to criminalize pregnancy in Texas could not only break up families by forcing pregnant women into prisons and children into foster care; they could be the starting point for a new strike on reproductive rights across the state" (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 10/16).

October 17, 2014

FEATURED BLOG

"Polling Confirms That Voters See Abortion Access as an Economic Issue for Women," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": A majority of voters see abortion "as a mainstream policy that's inextricably linked to women's financial stability," according to a new poll released by the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Culp-Ressler writes. The poll surveyed "voters in New York and Pennsylvania, both states where lawmakers have proposed broad legislative agendas with several policies intended to advance women's rights." The findings suggest that the "legislative agendas were very popular with voters in both" states, with many of them saying "they see abortion as one piece of the larger push to help women lead fuller lives," Culp-Ressler notes. According to NIRH President Andrea Miller, the results also "should be a 'wake up call for elected officials' who insist on separating abortion issues from financial issues, even though that's out of step with their constituents' views on the subject," Culp-Ressler writes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/16).

October 14, 2014

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"Tennessee Sentenced a Woman to Six Extra Years in Jail Simply Because She Was Pregnant," Amanda Marcotte, Slate 's "XX Factor": "Once you can get six extra years in prison because you made an unhealthy but not illegal choice while pregnant, it seems that the door is open to all sorts of policing of pregnant women's behavior," Marcotte writes, discussing a recent case in which a Tennessee woman was given "enhanced sentencing" for methamphetamine manufacturing because she was involved in the process while pregnant. According to a Vice report on the case, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women led a coalition of reproductive-rights organizations to urge the Department of Justice to protest the woman's sentencing, noting that drug use is not a crime under Tennessee or federal law, Marcotte writes. Marcotte adds, "[W]ith enhanced sentencing, the legal groundwork is being laid for criminalizing things that otherwise are not crimes because they are being performed while pregnant" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 10/13).

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"Pittsburgh Passes 'Reasonable Accommodations' for Pregnant Workers," Tara Murtha, Women's Law Project blog: The "Pittsburgh City Council passed legislation [Ordinance 2014-0809] that calls for 'reasonable accommodations' for pregnant women who work for the city or city contracts, and bans discrimination against pregnant employees," Murtha writes. She adds that the ordinance "cites examples of discrimination from around the state [of Pennsylvania], including a supermarket cashier ... who lost her job because she followed her doctor's orders to carry a water bottle and a pregnant security guard denied a request to sit down part of her shift in downtown Pittsburgh." Murtha writes that while "the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 [PL 95-555] banned discrimination against pregnant workers, it does not address reasonable accommodations under all circumstances," noting that state and federal lawmakers have proposed bills (S 942, HR 1975) to combat such discrimination (Murtha, Women's Law Project blog, 10/13).

What others are saying about supporting working families/pregnant workers' rights:

~ "Microsoft CEO Apologizes for Ridiculous Comments About Women," Sarah Gray, Salon.

October 10, 2014

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TEXAS: "More Bad News About Abortion in Texas," Stephanie Hallett, Ms. Magazine blog: Issues surrounding abortion and Texas' "omnibus anti-abortion bill" (HB 2) have "heated up in the last few weeks -- and not in a good way," Hallett writes. Hallett provides a "rundown of what's happening right now," noting that the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals "declined to re-hear a case first brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights in September 2013" that challenged the law's provisions on admitting privileges and medication abortion. She adds that a "request with the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the 5th Circuit's ruling" is "currently before" the high court. Meanwhile, many clinics have been forced to close because of the law, and the "limitations on abortion have left nearly a million Texas women -- primarily middle- and lower-income -- without access to care," she writes (Hallett, Ms. Magazine blog, 10/9).

What others are saying about Texas:

~ "Texas Abortion Providers Head to Supreme Court To Fight Restrictive Anti-Choice Law," Kutner, Salon.

~ "Map Shows Abortion Access in Texas Now Only for Wealthy," Laura Bassett, Huffington Post blogs.



October 7, 2014

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"'Students for Life' Tries To Shut Down Sex Week at the University of New Mexico," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check: Marcotte recaps the controversy around "what should be an utter non-controversy at the University of New Mexico: The fact that sex was being talked about during Sex Week," She writes that while the week's events had "racy titles and content," the reason for them "is simple enough: It's a way to draw attention to material that actually offers serious lessons about safety and consent." However, she notes, "Anti-choice activists have been at the forefront" of the backlash and "ire -- even though abortions didn't get a single mention in the program schedule," with Students for Life Vice President Sade Patterson instead urging "a workshop on 'how to say no' or how to handle a date-rape situation." Marcotte concludes that comments by such groups are representative of "the anti-choice movement in a nutshell: The belief that sex is 'gross,' and that should be reason enough for you to screw up other people's lives in a futile effort to make them stop doing it" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 10/6).

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"The Worst Phone Call of My Career: I’m Sorry Clinics, You Have to Close," Brigitte Amiri, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights:" Amiri, of the American Civil Liberties Union's Freedom Project, writes that she "had to make a phone call ... that [she has] been dreading [her] entire career," in which she was forced to tell "amazing abortion clinics" that they had to "close their doors after serving Texas women for more than 30 years." The clinics had to close after an appeals court allowed Texas' sweeping antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) to take effect. A provision of the law "requires abortion clinics to make medically unnecessary and prohibitively costly renovations" that left just "eight abortion clinics" operating in a state that is "home to more than 5.5 million women of childbearing age." Amiri explains that "[a]ll other clinics have been forced to immediately shut down, including two of" the Freedom Project's clients. Amiri concludes that she "can only hope that justice will prevail eventually and that [the clinics] will be able to go back to providing high quality care that women need and deserve" (Amiri, "Blog of Rights," American Civil Liberties Union, 10/3).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Fifth Circuit Allows More Limits on Abortion in Texas," Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog.

~ "Closing Down Abortion Clinics, Giving Fetuses Lawyers," Andrew Rosenthal, New York Times' "Taking Note."

 

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"More Than 3,000 People Have Signed Up for the First Online Abortion Class," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": More than 3,000 people have registered for the "first online course on abortion care that's ever been offered by a U.S. school," Culp-Ressler writes, adding that the course's creator -- Jody Steinauer from the University of California-San Francisco -- wants to "dedicate more time to a topic that often gets overlooked in medical school." The online class will include lectures from more than 20 faculty members from different institutions to "'place abortion within the context of public health and fill in the gaps left by its exclusion from mainstream curricula in health professions,'" according to the course description. While it is "possible that Steinauer's course will spark some pushback," it also "could make a big difference for female patients who want to be able to talk to their health providers about the procedure," Culp-Ressler writes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/6).