National Partnership for Women & Families

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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 »


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).

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"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

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"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

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"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).

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"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

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"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.

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"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

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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).