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 »


January 20, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"Virginia Lawmakers Roll Out Pro-Choice Legislative Agenda," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check: Liss-Schultz notes that "Virginia lawmakers on Wednesday filed a handful of bills related to reproductive and sexual health -- and they are almost all pro-choice, and could roll back anti-choice policies pushed through by Virginia Republicans in recent years." Specifically, she writes that state legislators "introduced at least eight bills [SB 733, SB 769, SB 920, SB 1277, HB 1524, HB 1541] related to reproductive health care," four of which "would repeal state regulations on abortion, while the others provide further access." However, "not every bill introduced so far in the 2015 [state legislative] session has been good for reproductive health," she writes. According to Liss-Schultz, the Virginia Legislature also on Wednesday "introduced HB 1456, which would allow child-protective services to investigate private property in response to a complaint that a pregnant person is using certain controlled substances that would 'render the woman's unborn child abused or neglected'" (Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check, 1/19).

FEATURED BLOG

"Fetus Lawyers, Baby Daddies and 'Legitimate Rape': America's Craziest Abortion Bills," Brandy Zadrozny, Daily Beast: "[A]rmed with hundreds of pre-written bills -- drawn up by" antiabortion-rights groups, "state lawmakers are finding new ways to make an abortion even harder to get in the new year," despite ongoing legal challenges to abortion restrictions in Texas, Alabama and other states, Zadrozny writes. Zadrozny highlights several "states that have gotten an early start at" attempting to "rol[l] back Roe v. Wade, which she says are "almost guaranteed" to be challenged in court if passed: Missouri, where "Republicans have already introduced eight abortion bills," including a measure (HB 131) "that would require permission from a fetus's father before a woman could have an abortion"; Indiana, where a lawmaker has "introduced legislation [SB 334] that would make it a felony for providers to perform an abortion because of the sex of the fetus or a potential disability"; Tennessee, where lawmakers have "rall[ied] behind three different abortion bills that include a mandatory waiting period, new inspection requirements for clinics, and an 'informed consent' bill," in addition to a proposed ultrasound requirement (HB 2); and South Carolina, where lawmakers have "filed nine anti-abortion bills before the legislative session even began, four of which were proposals to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks." Zadrozny notes that "this state list is only partial, as some states haven't yet begun their legislative sessions" (Zadrozny, Daily Beast, 1/20).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Anti-Choice Legislators Try To Force Wedge Between Reproductive, Disability Rights Activists," David Perry, RH Reality Check.

~ "Legal Wrap: New Year, Same Old Anti-Abortion Tricks From the GOP," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.

FEATURED BLOG

"'The Daily Show' Slams Appalling Alabama Law That Appoints Lawyers for Fetuses," Sarah Gray, Salon: Gray writes about a "Daily Show" segment in which Susan Wilson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, describes a "baffling Alabama law" (HB 494) that uses state funds to provide lawyers for fetuses. Gray explains that Alabama requires minors to obtain "parental consent to get an abortion," but that if they cannot obtain such consent, they "can go to the courts." However, she explains that the law permits judges to "appoint the unborn fetus a lawyer, and put the teenager seeking an abortion on trial -- witnesses and all." According to Wilson, the law is "not only 'particularly insulting to women' -- denying a woman's right to choose -- it also takes funds away from people who need public defenders," Gray writes (Gray, Salon, 1/16).


January 9, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"Five States Allow Women's Health Medicaid Programs To Lapse," Dori Molozanov, Penn Program on Regulation's "RegBlog": Molozanov writes that the expiration of some Medicaid waiver programs at the end of 2014 means that "[w]omen in five states" -- Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon and Pennsylvania -- "may be without affordable access to important health and family planning services, including routine cancer screenings and contraception." She explains that the states "chose not to ask CMS to renew" their Medicaid waiver programs, which allow states to "test new means of delivering health coverage under Medicaid, or to expand coverage to individuals who would not otherwise be eligible under federal law." The states' programs varied but generally had allowed them to offer no- or "low-cost reproductive services" to "women with incomes that do not exceed a certain amount above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but who do not qualify for [traditional] Medicaid." Of the five states, all but Louisiana have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), meaning that some "former beneficiaries of waiver programs in those states will likely receive the same low-cost services under Medicaid." However, they will "not be automatically transferred [to the program] and ... must reapply," and former participants who live in Louisiana or who exceed the income threshold for Medicaid eligibility must find other options. According to Molozanov, women's health advocates have expressed concern that "cancelling waiver programs and requiring women to reapply for health insurance will create gaps in coverage and leave many low-income women without necessary reproductive services" (Molozanov, "RegBlog," Penn Program on Regulation, 1/7).

FEATURED BLOG

"Fifth Circuit Panel Peppers Attorneys With Tough Questions on Texas Abortion Law," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: Grimes recaps Wednesday's oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over the constitutionality of parts of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) that could shutter many of the state's remaining abortion clinics if implemented. She writes, "Three issues appeared time and time again during the arguments," including whether the appeals court "should apply a 'rational basis' standard to evaluating the constitutionality of HB 2"; "whether the state could defend HB 2 as medically necessary while also suggesting that El Pasoans who are unable to travel to the interior of the state should simply drive into nearby New Mexico, where abortion restrictions are much looser"; and "whether established numerical parameters" -- such as driving distance to an abortion facility -- "could or should be established as automatic proof of an undue burden." She notes that the results of the trial "could direct the course of abortion-related law" across the U.S. as the country enacts "ever more onerous restrictions" on providers and as the Supreme Court mulls reviewing cases that "have been winding their way" through the lower courts (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 1/7).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "4 Reasons Why the 5th Circuit Could Change Their Minds on the Texas Abortion Law," Robin Marty, Care2.

December 16, 2014

FEATURED BLOG

"Pregnant Wisconsin Woman Jailed Under State's 'Personhood'-Like Law," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: Mason Pieklo compares a Wisconsin substance-misuse law (Act 292) to antiabortion-rights "personhood" laws by discussing the case of Tamara Loerstcher, a woman in Wisconsin who was arrested under Act 292 after disclosing her past substance use to hospital workers during her pregnancy. Mason Pieklo explains that the Wisconsin law effectively "grants 'personhood' rights to fertilized eggs and embryos by granting the state power to initiate child protective actions against the expectant mother anytime the state believes she has substance use issues that will 'seriously affect' the health of the egg, embryo, fetus, or child." Mason Pieklo notes that Loerstcher was "not the first" woman prosecuted under Wisconsin's law and that several other states "have some kind of process in place that allows the state to effectively suspend the civil rights of pregnant people in the name of protecting against fetal harm" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 12/12).

FEATURED BLOG

"California Parents Outraged Their Kids Are Learning About Consent, Gender Identity," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": In November, a group of parents in the Acalanes Union High School District in Northern California "formed a coalition called NOISE -- which stands for 'No to Irresponsible Sex Education' -- to pressure school officials to drop Planned Parenthood's [sex education] curriculum," Culp-Ressler writes. Culp-Ressler explains that the parent group has accused "Planned Parenthood of trying to pressure their kids into having sex," with specific objections against "a 'genderbread person' tool that teaches kids about the spectrum of sexuality and gender" and "a checklist that helps kids decide whether they're ready for sex" and communicate effectively with potential partners. Culp-Ressler notes that district officials "have defended the sex ed courses," adding that "a recent study confirmed that a sex education curriculum developed by [Planned Parenthood] effectively helps kids delay having sex" and that "[m]ost Americans overwhelmingly support comprehensive sex ed" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 12/12).


December 12, 2014

FEATURED BLOG

"What's Next? Prosecuting a Pregnant Woman for Working Full Time?" Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights": After Tennessee resident Lacey Weld's prison sentence for committing drug-related crimes was enhanced because she was pregnant, the American Civil Liberties Union joined an amicus "brief filed by the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, on behalf of leading constitutional, medical, and public health experts, asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the decision to punish Ms. Weld for her pregnancy," Kolbi-Molinas writes. Kolbi-Molinas notes that ACLU has "also asked Attorney General [Eric] Holder to renounce the federal prosecutor in Tennessee's actions and ensure that no other federal prosecutor takes this position in the future." Criminalizing pregnancy is "flatly unconstitutional [and] it's dangerous for women, families, and babies," she writes, adding, "Those really concerned with the welfare of women and babies would do well to make sure pregnant women struggling with addiction have better access to health care, not use them as examples to further their own private or political gain" (Kolbi-Molinas, "Blog of Rights," American Civil Liberties Union, 12/11).

December 5, 2014

FEATURED BLOG

"Women Protest Ohio's Proposed Six Week Abortion Ban: 'Our Bodies, Our Decisions,'" Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Ohio Republican lawmakers "have been doing everything in their power to advance a six-week abortion ban [HB 248]," but it is "still unclear whether it has enough support to move further," Culp-Ressler writes. The bill's opponents came together Wednesday "under the hashtag #PinkWednesday" and "rallied on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse ... urging their lawmakers to stop pursuing unconstitutional abortion bans," she adds. They "argued that the legislation is bad medicine and bad policy, and will provoke a potentially costly legal fight if it ends up getting approved," Culp-Ressler writes, noting that "unlikely suspects," such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and "[s]ome of the anti-choice groups in the state," have also voiced concerns about the bill's constitutionality (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 12/4).

FEATURED BLOG

"Virginia Board of Health Votes To Amend Anti-Abortion Law," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check: "The Virginia Board of Health on Thursday voted to amend some of the state's strict anti-abortion regulations that subject clinics to the same architectural standards as hospitals," Liss-Schultz writes. She notes that the "regulatory process set in motion" by the vote could "take up to two years to complete," but it might "result in the effective reversal of the law, which threatens to close the state's 18 abortion clinics." According to Liss-Schultz, current Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ordered the state Department of Health to review the regulations after he took office in 2013, noting that the requirements could "'negatively impact women's access to necessary health services.'" The Department of Health's commissioner in October "published recommendations to amend the law," and the board's approval means that the state can "craft and move forward with an amendment," Liss-Schultz explains (Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check, 12/4).


December 2, 2014

FEATURED BLOG

"Activists Are Already Trying To End Legal Abortion City by City," Robin Marty, Care2: "It's no wonder, with abortion clinics so concentrated in such small areas of the nation, that anti-abortion activists are doubling down on their quest to take restrictions not just to the state house, but to city councils and county seats as well," Marty writes, noting that roughly 89% of U.S. counties do not have a clinic. For example, Marty notes that the Rossville, Ga., City Council considered a resolution "banning abortion clinics in the city, despite the fact that there were no clinics there" and "forbid[ding] any organization that performs abortions from placing an advertisement in the city," while the St. Joseph County, Ind., City Council debated a failed "resolution to demand that any abortion provider in their county must have local hospital admitting privileges." This localized strategy "looks like it may be the new reality," Marty writes, noting that "[w]ith under 800 abortion clinics left in the country, picking them off city by city or county by county is looking more appealing to anti-abortion activists by the minute" (Marty, Care2, 11/28).

What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:

~ "'False Witnesses' Tells the Truth," Carole Joffe, ANSIRH Blog.

FEATURED BLOG

"Alabama Anti-Choicers Want To Regulate Abortion Clinics Like Sex Predators," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check: Abortion-rights opponents in Alabama are pushing legislation that would require a 2,000-foot buffer between schools and abortion clinics, the same minimum distance required between schools and sex offenders, after a judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to close a reopened clinic in Huntsville, Marcotte writes. She notes that while the Christian Coalition of Alabama's James Henderson, who is spearheading the effort, might "just [be] looking for any angle he can to shut down the clinic," his strategy implies that "getting an abortion is an even bigger, scarier sexual perversion than child molestation is." Marcotte writes that "under no circumstances is there a legitimate argument for how having an out-of-sight abortion take place within 2,000 feet of a child could have any impact on that kid," adding that while antiabortion-rights protests featuring graphic images of fetuses "could negatively affect children," it is unlikely that "Henderson and company would ... agree with banning picketing within 2,000 feet of a school" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 12/1).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Lessons on Allyship From the Fight Against Colorado's 'Personhood' Amendment," Cristina Aguilar, RH Reality Check.

November 7, 2014

FEATURED BLOG

"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

FEATURED BLOG

"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).

FEATURED BLOG

"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

FEATURED BLOG

"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."

FEATURED BLOG

"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).

FEATURED BLOG

"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

FEATURED BLOG

"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.

FEATURED BLOG

"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.