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Thanking Our Pro-Choice Champions in Honor of Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and we'd like to acknowledge and honor a few amazing African-American pro-choice champions who've stood up for women's reproductive freedom, especially against recent anti-choice attacks in the states.

When anti-choice politicians in Ohio introduced legislation that would ban abortion as early as six weeks - before most women realize they're pregnant - State Sen. Nina Turner introduced a tongue-in-cheek bill that would require men to undergo psychological counseling before accessing Viagra.

A close ally of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, we recently honored Nina with our Champion of Choice Award for her leadership and advocacy on behalf of women's health.

We'd also like to recognize North Carolina state Rep. Alma Adams who spoke out against extreme anti-choice restrictions that could close reproductive-health clinics.

Alma Adams speaking.jpg

When anti-choice politicians in her state tried to pass anti-choice restrictions using a "motorcycle safety" bill, Alma called out the anti-choice legislators for their cheating tactics:

"It's about politics. It's not about women's health. It's not about safety...As a woman, I am personally insulted by the maneuvers around getting this bill to the floor. We've made a mockery of women's health and safety."

Alma has been fighting for reproductive rights for nearly three decades, and we are so grateful for having her solidarity with NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and being an ally to all women and families.

In the Cheesehead state, we'd like to recognize Wisconsin state Rep. LaTonya Johnson. She fought against a medically unnecessary forced ultrasound bill and spoke on the Wisconsin floor about the importance of access to comprehensive sex-education program.

LaTonya also spoke at the Stand with Wisconsin Women rally let by NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin and their coalition. Check out the video below:

And in New York, we're giving a shout out to State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic Conference Leader and the first African-American woman to hold that position!

Andrea Stewart Cousins Small.jpg

Andrea, who was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice New York, led the charge for the Women's Equality Act (WEA) in the State Senate last year and continues to advocate for the full 10-point WEA. She said:

"No one would believe that in 2013 there were not enough Senators willing to vote to protect the health and equality of women. In 1970, when choice was first passed in New York, 12 Republican Senators joined a majority of their Democratic colleagues to support this landmark legislation. In our state, women's health has never been a Republican or Democratic issue. I find it shocking that 43 years later not one Senate Republican stood up for women's equality."

Andrea was the primary sponsor of the Reproductive Health Act in the 2011 session.

In Texas, where NARAL Pro-Choice Texas works on the ground to defend reproductive rights against huge challenges, we want to recognize some awesome leaders who were loud and proud about their pro-choice values during the heated legislative attacks that led to Wendy Davis' historic filibuster.

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson hung a wire hanger from the microphone while she spoke during the hearings to pay reverence and respect to the many women who were injured or died accessing illegal abortion.

Senfronia Thompson.jpg

State Rep. Dawnna Duke rallied women in Texas and proposed amendments that would allow more options for women with unintended pregnancies.

Dawnna Dukes.jpg

We're also giving a shout out to Virginia Delegate Charniele Herring, who has a 100% pro-choice voting record!

CharnieleHerring.jpg

Charniele was the first African-American woman elected to represent Northern Virginia in the General Assembly. Charniele was also chair of the reproductive rights caucus in 2012 and was a huge player, along with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, in the fight against forced ultrasound legislation in 2012.

The pro-choice movement is fortunate to have incredible champions from all backgrounds and walks of life but we couldn't be where we are today without the tenacious, smart, and courageous leadership of African-American state lawmakers.

We can't thank these pro-choice rock stars enough for standing up for women's reproductive freedom in all communities.

Happy Black History Month from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Thanks for Making Our First Google Hangout a Great Success!

Yesterday, we hosted our first ever pro-choice #AskNARAL Google Hangout featuring Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Vice President for Policy Donna Crane, and Political Director Erika West. The hangout was moderated by our Director of Public Affairs and recent honoree of Planned Parenthood's Defenders of Choice, Samantha Gordon.

In case you missed the opportunity to tune in, watch our hangout below:

Our friends and activists submitted so many fantastic questions to #AskNARAL about choice-related issues and our strategy to go on offense - we didn't have time to answer them all!

Here are few questions we didn't have a chance to address in our live hangout:

We're working to expose anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) for lying to and shaming women who are seeking accurate information about their full range of reproductive-health options. We recently held an online week of action in partnership with the Feminist Majority Foundation to call out CPCs and we worked with our affiliate NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota to hold a CPC accountable for distributing misinformation and lashing out at a pro-choice student organizer who criticized it in Minnesota. Several of our state affiliates have produced top-notch reports analyzing CPCs. Be sure to check out our Exposing Fake Clinics Tumblr and website for more information on CPCs.

We all share the goal of preventing unintended pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion. Studies show time and again that when women have access to contraception, the rates of unintended pregnancies, and therefore demand for abortion care, decreases.

As a movement, we all need to do a better job of empowering pro-choice individuals from all ethnic and economic backgrounds. One way we're working to increase diversity in the pro-choice movement is by helping to elect pro-choice men and women of color who can bring their unique experiences and knowledge of diverse communities into the political sphere. We will continue to highlight a diverse set of voices so that, together, we can enact pro-choice policies that help protect and expand reproductive rights in all communities.

Visit our state affiliates' pages to learn more about work in the states and how you can get involved in protecting choice in your community.

All people should have the right to decide when, whether and with whom to have children, so our issues relate very closely. We support marriage equality and we will fight with our LGBT allies to ensure politicians stay out of our private lives and decisions.

Check out a great article published last month that breaks down the cost of defending anti-choice measures for five states.

We're working on expanding reproductive access both at the state and federal levels. We've celebrated a pro-choice win in California, where the governor signed legislation that increases the number of medical professionals who can provide early abortion care. And states like New York and Washington are making women's health and equality part of their agenda this year by introducing measures to protect and expand women's access.

As an organization, we don't litigate, but we do work closely with groups that do, including our coalition partners, and we support many national and local initiatives to stop anti-choice attacks in the states and protect women's reproductive freedom across the country.

We can't thank you enough for making our #AskNARAL hangout a great success and for submitting so many important questions about choice.

How Did Your Lawmaker Vote on Extreme Anti-Choice Bill H.R.7?

Today, the House of Representatives voted on H.R.7, which would take away abortion coverage from millions of American women.

Not only would H.R.7 permanently block abortion coverage for low-income women, civil servants, D.C. residents, and military women, it would also impose tax penalties on small businesses that choose private health plans with abortion coverage and effectively ban abortion coverage in the state health-insurance exchanges - a radical new restriction that could jeopardize the availability of private insurance coverage of abortion for all women in all private health plans nationwide.

Despite opposition from the public and pro-choice elected officials who trust women, anti-choice politicians advanced their extreme agenda to restrict women's reproductive freedom and passed this legislation in a 227-188 vote.

It's critical that we hold anti-choice members of Congress accountable for voting against reproductive rights and access to health care. Look below to see how your member of Congress voted on H.R.7, and then let them know what you think! If your lawmaker voted against H.R.7, send them a thank-you email, and if your lawmaker voted against H.R.7, tell them you're disappointed

Lawmakers who voted to pass H.R.7 Lawmakers who voted against H.R.7

Rep. Aderholt (R-AL)
Rep. Amash (R-MI)
Rep. Bachmann (R-MN)
Rep. Bachus (R-AL)
Rep. Barletta (R-PA)
Rep. Barr (R-KY)
Rep. Barton (R-TX)
Rep. Benishek (R-MI)
Rep. Bentivolio (R-MI)
Rep. Bilirakis (R-FL)
Rep. Bishop (R-UT)
Rep. Black (R-TN)
Rep. Blackburn (R-TN)
Rep. Boustany (R-LA)
Rep. Brady (R-TX)
Rep. Bridenstine (R-OK)
Rep. Brooks (R-AL)
Rep. Brooks (R-IN)
Rep. Buchanan (R-FL)
Rep. Bucshon (R-IN)
Rep. Burgess (R-TX)
Rep. Byrne (R-AL)
Rep. Calvert (R-CA)
Rep. Camp (R-MI)
Rep. Cantor (R-VA)
Rep. Capito (R-WV)
Rep. Carter (R-TX)
Rep. Cassidy (R-LA)
Rep. Chabot (R-OH)
Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT)
Rep. Coble (R-NC)
Rep. Coffman (R-CO)
Rep. Cole (R-OK)
Rep. Collins (R-GA)
Rep. Collins (R-NY)
Rep. Conaway (R-TX)
Rep. Cook (R-CA)
Rep. Cotton (R-AR)
Rep. Cramer (R-ND)
Rep. Crawford (R-AR)
Rep. Crenshaw (R-FL)
Rep. Cuellar (D-TX)
Rep. Culberson (R-TX)
Rep. Daines (R-MT)
Rep. Davis (R-IL)
Rep. Denham (R-CA)
Rep. Dent (R-PA)
Rep. DeSantis (R-FL)
Rep. DesJarlais (R-TN)
Rep. Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Rep. Duffy (R-WI)
Rep. Duncan (R-SC)
Rep. Duncan (R-TN)
Rep. Ellmers (R-NC)
Rep. Farenthold (R-TX)
Rep. Fincher (R-TN)
Rep. Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
Rep. Fleischmann (R-TN)
Rep. Fleming (R-LA)
Rep. Flores (R-TX)
Rep. Forbes (R-VA)
Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE)
Rep. Foxx (R-NC)
Rep. Franks (R-AZ)
Rep. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Rep. Gardner (R-CO)
Rep. Garrett (R-NJ)
Rep. Gerlach (R-PA)
Rep. Gibbs (R-OH)
Rep. Gibson (R-NY)
Rep. Gingrey (R-GA)
Rep. Gohmert (R-TX)
Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA)
Rep. Gosar (R-AZ)
Rep. Gowdy (R-SC)
Rep. Granger (R-TX)
Rep. Graves (R-GA)
Rep. Graves (R-MO)
Rep. Griffin (R-AR)
Rep. Griffith (R-VA)
Rep. Grimm (R-NY)
Rep. Guthrie (R-KY)
Rep. Hall (R-TX)
Rep. Harper (R-MS)
Rep. Harris (R-MD)
Rep. Hartzler (R-MO)
Rep. Hastings (R-WA)
Rep. Heck (R-NV)
Rep. Hensarling (R-TX)
Rep. Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
Rep. Holding (R-NC)
Rep. Hudson (R-NC)
Rep. Huelskamp (R-KS)
Rep. Huizenga (R-MI)
Rep. Hultgren (R-IL)
Rep. Hunter (R-CA)
Rep. Hurt (R-VA)
Rep. Issa (R-CA)
Rep. Jenkins (R-KS)
Rep. Johnson (R-OH)
Rep. Johnson (R-TX)
Rep. Jordan (R-OH)
Rep. Joyce (R-OH)
Rep. Kelly (R-PA)
Rep. King (R-IA)
Rep. King (R-NY)
Rep. Kingston (R-GA)
Rep. Kinzinger (R-IL)
Rep. Kline (R-MN)
Rep. Labrador (R-ID)
Rep. LaMalfa (R-CA)
Rep. Lamborn (R-CO)
Rep. Lance (R-NJ)
Rep. Lankford (R-OK)
Rep. Latham (R-IA)
Rep. Latta (R-OH)
Rep. Lipinski (D-IL)
Rep. LoBiondo
Rep. Long (R-MO)
Rep. Lucas (R-OK)
Rep. Luetkemeyer (R MO)
Rep. Lummis (R-WY)
Rep. Marchant (RTX)
Rep. Marino (R-PA)
Rep. Massie (R-KY)
Rep. Matheson (D-UT)
Rep. McAllister (R-LA)
Rep. McCarthy (R-CA)
Rep. McCaul (R-TX)
Rep. McClintock (R-CA)
Rep. McHenry (R-NC)
Rep. McIntyre (D-NC)
Rep. McKeon (R-CA)
Rep. McKinley (R-WV)
Rep. McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
Rep. Meadows (R-NC)
Rep. Meehan (R-PA)
Rep. Messer (R-IN)
Rep. Mica (R-FL)
Rep. Miller (R-MI)
Rep. Miller (R-CA)
Rep. Mullin (R-OK)
Rep. Mulvaney (R-SC)
Rep. Murphy (R-PA)
Rep. Neugebauer (R-TX)
Rep. Noem (R-SD)
Rep. Nugent (R-FL)
Rep. Nunes (R-CA)
Rep. Nunnelee (R-MS)
Rep. Olson (R-TX)
Rep. Palazzo (R-MS)
Rep. Paulsen (R-MN)
Rep. Pearce (R-NM)
Rep. Perry (R-PA)
Rep. Peterson (D-MN)
Rep. Pittenger (R-NC)
Rep. Pitts (R-PA)
Rep. Poe (R-TX)
Rep. Pompeo (R-KS)
Rep. Posey (R-FL)
Rep. Price (R-GA)
Rep. Rahall (D-WV)
Rep. Reed (R-NY)
Rep. Reichert (R-WA)
Rep. Renacci (R-OH)
Rep. Ribble (R-WI)
Rep. Rice (R-SC)
Rep. Rigell (R-VA)
Rep. Roby (R-AL)
Rep. Roe (R-TN)
Rep. Rogers (R-AL)
Rep. Rogers (R-MI)
Rep. Rogers (R-KY)
Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Rep. Rokita (R-IN)
Rep. Rooney (R-FL)
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Rep. Roskam (R-IL)
Rep. Ross (R-FL)
Rep. Rothfus (R-PA)
Rep. Royce (R-CA)
Rep. Ryan (R-WI)
Rep. Salmon (R-AZ)
Rep. Sanford (R-SC)
Rep. Scalise (R-LA)
Rep. Schock (R-IL)
Rep. Schweikert (R-AZ)
Rep. Scott (R-GA)
Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
Rep. Sessions (R-TX)
Rep. Shimkus (R-IL)
Rep. Shuster (R-PA)
Rep. Simpson (R-ID)
Rep. Smith (R-MO)
Rep. Smith (R-NE)
Rep. Smith (R-NJ)
Rep. Smith (R-TX)
Rep. Southerland (R-FL)
Rep. Stewart (R-UT)
Rep. Stivers (R-OH)
Rep. Stockman (R-TX)
Rep. Stutzman (R-IN)
Rep. Terry (R-NE)
Rep. Thompson (R-PA)
Rep. Thornberry (R-TX)
Rep. Tiberi (R-OH)
Rep. Turner (R-OH)
Rep. Upton (R-MI)
Rep. Valadao (R-CA)
Rep. Wagner (R-MO)
Rep. Walberg (R-MI)
Rep. Walden (R-OR)
Rep. Walorski (R-IN)
Rep. Weber (R-TX)
Rep. Webster (R-FL)
Rep. Wenstrup (R-OH)
Rep. Whitfield (R-KY)
Rep. Williams (R-TX)
Rep. Wilson (R-SC)
Rep. Wittman (R-VA)
Rep. Wolf (R-VA)
Rep. Womack (R-AR)
Rep. Yoder (R-K)
Rep. Yoho (R-FL)
Rep. Young (R-AK)
Rep. Young (R-IN)

Rep. Andrews (D-NJ)
Rep. Barber (D-AZ)
Rep. Barrow (D-GA)
Rep. Bass (D-CA)
Rep. Beatty (D-OH)
Rep. Becerra (D-CA)
Rep. Bera (D-CA)
Rep. Bishop (D-GA)
Rep. Bishop (D-NY)
Rep. Bonamici (D-OR)
Rep. Brady (D-PA)
Rep. Braley (D-IA)
Rep. Brown (D-FL)
Rep. Brownley (D-CA)
Rep. Bustos (D-IL)
Rep. Butterfield (D-NC)
Rep. Capps (D-CA)
Rep. Capuano (D-MA)
Rep. Cárdenas (D-CA)
Rep. Carney (D-DE)
Rep. Carson (D-IN)
Rep. Cartwright (D-PA)
Rep. Castor (D-FL)
Rep. Castro (D-TX)
Rep. Chu (D-CA)
Rep. Cicilline (D-RI)
Rep. Clarke (D-NY)
Rep. Cleaver (D-MO)
Rep. Clyburn (D-SC)
Rep. Cohen (D-TN)
Rep. Connolly (D-VA)
Rep. Conyers (D-MI)
Rep. Cooper (D-TN)
Rep. Costa (D-CA)
Rep. Courtney (D-CT)
Rep. Crowley (D-NY)
Rep. Cummings (D-MD)
Rep. Davis (D-CA)
Rep. Davis (D-IL)
Rep. DeFazio (D-OR)
Rep. DeGette (D-CO)
Rep. Delaney (D-MD)
Rep. DeLauro (D-CT)
Rep. DelBene (D-WA)
Rep. Deutch (D-FL)
Rep. Dingell (D-MI)
Rep. Doggett (D-TX)
Rep. Doyle (D-PA)
Rep. Duckworth (D-IL)
Rep. Edwards (D-MD)
Rep. Ellison (D-MN)
Rep. Engel (D-NY)
Rep. Enyart (D-IL)
Rep. Eshoo (D-CA)
Rep. Esty (D-CT)
Rep. Farr (D-CA)
Rep. Fattah (D-PA)
Rep. Foster (D-IL)
Rep. Frankel (D-FL)
Rep. Fudge (D-OH)
Rep. Gabbard (D-HI)
Rep. Gallego (D-TX)
Rep. Garamendi (D-CA)
Rep. Garcia (D-FL)
Rep. Grayson (D-Fl)
Rep. Green, Al (D-TX)
Rep. Green, Gene (D-TX)
Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ)
Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL)
Rep. Hahn (D-CA)
Rep. Hanabusa (D-HI)
Rep. Hanna (R-NY)
Rep. Hastings (D-FL)
Rep. Heck (D-WA)
Rep. Higgins (D-NY)
Rep. Himes (D-CT)
Rep. Holt (D-NJ)
Rep. Honda (D-CA)
Rep. Horsford (D-NV)
Rep. Hoyer (D-MD)
Rep. Huffman (D-CA)
Rep. Israel (D-NY)
Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Rep. Jeffries (D-NY)
Rep. Johnson (D-GA)
Rep. Johnson, E. B. (D-TX)
Rep. Kaptur (D-OH)
Rep. Keating (D-MA)
Rep. Kelly (D-IL)
Rep. Kennedy (D-MA)
Rep. Kildee (D-MI)
Rep. Kilmer (D-WA)
Rep. Kind (D-WI)
Rep. Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)
Rep. Kuster (D-NH)
Rep. Langevin (D-RI)
Rep. Larsen (D-WA)
Rep. Larson (D-CT)
Rep. Lee (D-CA)
Rep. Levin (D-MI)
Rep. Lewis (D-GA)
Rep. Loebsack (D-IA)
Rep. Lofgren (D-CA)
Rep. Lowenthal (D-CA)
Rep. Lowey (D-NY)
Rep. Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
Rep. Luján, Ben Ray (D-NM)
Rep. Lynch (D-MA)
Rep. Maffei (D-NY)
Rep. Maloney, Carolyn (D-NY)
Rep. Maloney, Sean (D-NY)
Rep. Matsui (D-CA)
Rep. McCollum (D-MN)
Rep. McDermott (D-WA)
Rep. McGovern (D-MA)
Rep. McNerney (D-CA)
Rep. Meeks (D-CA)
Rep. Meng (D-NY)
Rep. Michaud (D-ME)
Rep. Miller, George (D-CA)
Rep. Moore (D-WI)
Rep. Moran (D-VA)
Rep. Murphy (D-FL)
Rep. Nadler (D-NY)
Rep. Napolitano (D-CA)
Rep. Neal (D-MA)
Rep. Negrete McLeod (D-CA)
Rep. Nolan (D-MN)
Rep. O'Rourke (D-TX)
Rep. Owens (D-NY)
Rep. Pallone (D-NJ)
Rep. Pascrell (D-NJ)
Rep. Pastor (D-AZ)
Rep. Payne (D-NJ)
Rep. Pelosi (D-CA)
Rep. Perlmutter (D-CO)
Rep. Peters (D-CA)
Rep. Peters (D-MI)
Rep. Pingree (D-ME)
Rep. Pocan (D-WI)
Rep. Polis (D-CO)
Rep. Price (D-NC)
Rep. Quigley (D-IL)
Rep. Rangel (D-NY)
Rep. Richmond (D-LA)
Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Rep. Ruiz (D-CA)
Rep. Ryan (D-OH)
Rep. Sánchez, Linda T.(D-CA)
Rep. Sarbanes (D-MD)
Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL)
Rep. Schiff (D-CA)
Rep. Schneider (D-IL)
Rep. Schrader (D-OR)
Rep. Schwartz (D-PA)
Rep. Scott (D-VA)
Rep. Scott, David (D-GA)
Rep. Serrano (D-NJ)
Rep. Sewell (D-AL)
Rep. Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Rep. Sherman (D-CA)
Rep. Sinema (D-AZ)
Rep. Sires (D-NJ)
Rep. Slaughter 9D-NY)
Rep. Smith (D-WA)
Rep. Speier (D-CA)
Rep. Swalwell (D-CA)
Rep. Takano (D-CA)
Rep. Thompson (D-CA)
Rep. Thompson (D-MS)
Rep. Tierney (D-MA)
Rep. Titus (D-NV)
Rep. Tonko (D-NY)
Rep. Tsongas (D-MA)
Rep. Van Hollen (D-MD)
Rep. Vargas (D-CA)
Rep. Veasey (D-TX)
Rep. Vela (D-TX)
Rep. Velázquez (D-NY)
Rep. Visclosky (D-IN)
Rep. Walz (D-MN)
Rep. Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
Rep. Waters (D-CA)
Rep. Waxman (D-CA)
Rep. Welch (D-VT)
Rep. Wilson (D-FL)
Rep. Yarmuth (D-KY)

Not Voting
Rep. Amodei (R-NV)
Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR)
Rep. Clay (D-MO)
Rep. Hinojosa (D-TX)
Rep. Jones (R-NC)
Rep. McCarthy (D-NY)
Rep. Miller (R-FL)
Rep. Petri (R-WI)
Rep. Runyan (R-NJ)
Rep. Ruppersberger (D-MD)
Rep. Rush (D-IL)
Rep. Sanchez, Loretta (D-CA)
Rep. Tipton (R-CO)
Rep. Westmoreland (R-GA)

*Italicized names denote party crossovers

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House to Vote on Bill That Would Take Away Abortion Coverage for Millions of American Women

This week, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R.7, an extreme anti-choice bill that would take away abortion coverage from millions of American women.

Thanks to a huge outcry from the public and pro-choice elected officials, anti-choice members of the House committee had already revised this bill to drop a provision that would have redefined rape. Last week, they revised the bill a second time to drop a provision that would have forced women to prove to the IRS that they'd been raped. Not only that, but they snuck in new provisions that have never been discussed or debated in committee.

We've seen anti-choice politicians in Texas, North Carolina, and Ohio cheat to force their extreme anti-choice agenda on the public. Now, they're using these same backhanded tactics in Congress!

As of today, here's what H.R.7 would do:

  • Impose tax penalties on small businesses that offer abortion coverage in employee insurance plans.
  • Ban abortion coverage entirely in the new health-insurance exchanges.
  • Permanently ban abortion coverage for women who get their health care through the government, including servicewomen and low-income women.
  • Require health plans to make biased, one-sided "disclosures" of abortion coverage.

You can learn more about the harmful effects of H.R.7 on our website.

If you are as outraged as we are about this, please share our graphic on Facebook so that we can get the word out far and wide about how anti-choice politicians will stop at nothing, including cheating, to block reproductive-health care for women and families who may need it the most.

HR7-bullets-final.jpg

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Honoring Our "Who Decides?" Dedicatees

We're delighted to honor some notable state lawmakers who have fought back against extreme anti-choice legislation against all odds in the 23rd edition of our annual report Who Decides? The Status of Reproductive Rights in the States. These state lawmakers truly represent the pro-choice majority, and they champion women's reproductive rights in some states that may need them the most.

2014-who-decides-dedication.jpg

  • One honoree we're highlighting this year is Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis.
Sen. Davis' 13-hour filibuster of an extreme, anti-choice omnibus bill captivated the nation, and she quickly became the face of women's struggle to access safe, legal abortion, especially in states with extreme anti-choice legislatures, like Texas. Thanks to NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, we organized to support Sen. Davis' efforts to block the bill from going into effect and activated thousands of pro-choice Texans who will #StandWithWendy as she continues to fight for choice in 2014.

  • Another honoree in this year's edition of Who Decides? is North Carolina state Rep. Alma Adams.

Rep. Adams has spent nearly three decades fighting for women and families and, alongside NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, she helped lead the fight against the now-infamous "motorcycle safety" anti-abortion bill which the anti-choice North Carolina legislature rushed through at the last minute to bypass any opposition from pro-choice elected officials. Alma had this to say about the bill she tried to stop: "It's about politics. It's not about women's health. It's not about safety...As a woman, I am personally insulted by the maneuvers around getting this bill to the floor. We've made a mockery of women's health and safety."

  • Our final honoree is California Assemblywoman Toni Atkins.

Asm. Atkins authored the 2013 law that expands access to safe abortion care in the Golden State, which NARAL Pro-Choice California organized around to help pass. This new law will increase the number of medical professionals who can provide early abortion care like midwives and nurses. Now, women in parts of California where there are only a few doctors will have the ability to access abortion care from someone they know and trust.

Check out our latest edition of Who Decides? The Status of Reproductive Choice in the States for more information on choice-related laws in your state and learn about how state legislatures can have a deep impact on women's reproductive freedom.

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Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Buffer-Zone Law that Protects Against Dangerous Anti-Choice Protesters

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear a challenge to a law that protects women seeking reproductive-health care in Massachusetts - including checkups, birth control, and abortion care - from enduring violence, and harassment by anti-choice protesters outside of reproductive-health clinics.

Massachusetts has a 35-foot buffer zone (the distance of two parking spaces) that blocks anti-choice protesters from approaching women accessing health care. But anti-choice forces are fighting the buffer zone so that they can get even closer when shaming and harassing women entering these clinics.

Anti-choice protesters often hover around reproductive-health care clinics within a certain distance to protest, picket, and hand out anti-choice propaganda to women walking into the clinic - regardless of whether they're at the clinic to get an abortion or not.

These protesters are anything but harmless. Their tactics include screaming, using threats, taking photos, and even spitting on patients. In some of the more extreme cases, anti-choice protesters have been deadly. Most recently, Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas was murdered in his church by an anti-choice protester in 2009.

We reached out to some of our allies who volunteer as clinic escorts. These courageous supporters walk women through mobs to make sure they can get health care safely. They told us what it's like to escort and sent us pictures - we so appreciate their willingness to share their experiences.

This history of violence, harassment, and ripping away patient privacy is why the Supreme Court must rule in favor of women's safety and uphold the buffer-zone law. Nobody should be subjected to harassment or violence when getting health care or making a deeply personal health decision.

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7 Pro-Choice State Lawmakers to Watch in 2014

We celebrated some great pro-choice wins in 2013, in large part because we have strong, pro-choice leaders who fight day in and day out for our rights. Here's our list of notable pro-choice state lawmakers to watch in 2014:

1) Texas gubernatorial candidate and State Sen. Wendy Davis

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Wendy Davis gained pro-choice political stardom last summer when she filibustered extreme anti-choice legislation that could shut down almost 90 percent of reproductive-health clinics that provide abortion care across the state of Texas, force women to get an ultrasound before they can have an abortion, and ban abortion after 20 weeks. We know that exciting things await Wendy and her colleague, Texas state Sen. Leticia van de Putte, in 2014. And we look forward to seeing NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and these pro-choice champions make magic this year.

2) Texas State Sen. Leticia van de Putte

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During Sen. Davis' filibuster, Leticia raised the roof when she called out her anti-choice colleagues in the Texas state Senate, asking, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?" If you haven't seen it yet, the video is pretty incredible. You can hear the literal roar of pro-choice activists who showed up in solidarity with Texas women.

3) Oklahoma State Rep. Doug Cox

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Republican state Rep. Doug Cox, a practicing physician, is part of the pro-choice minority in the Oklahoma state legislature. He caught our attention last year when he reprimanded his Republican colleagues for attempting to restrict women's access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act. He got even more vocal in an op-ed, Doug wrote, "What happened to the Republican Party that felt that the government has no business being in an exam room, standing between me and my patient? Where did the party go that felt some decisions in a woman's life should be made not by legislators and government, but rather by the women, her conscience, her doctor and her God?" How will Rep. Cox fight for women in 2014? We can't wait to see.

4) North Carolina State Rep. Alma Adams

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Alma has fought for women and families for nearly three decades, and in 2013 she, along with NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, was a leader in the fight against the "motorcycle safety" bill that politicians used to sneak in a dangerous anti-choice provision. Alma spoke out about the extreme legislation: "It's about politics. It's not about women's health. It's not about safety...As a woman, I am personally insulted by the maneuvers around getting this bill to the floor. We've made a mockery of women's health and safety." We're grateful that Rep. Adams continues to speak out for women's health in North Carolina and we're sure 2014 will be no exception.

5) California State Assemblywoman Toni Atkins

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Toni wrote the new law in California to increase the number of medical providers who can provide abortion care in California. You can watch Toni talk about her bill in this video. We, along with NARAL Pro-Choice California, couldn't be more grateful for Asm. Atkins' pro-choice initiative in California. We're excited to see even more from her in 2014.

6) Michigan State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer

whitmer-crop.jpg In December 2013, the anti-choice Michigan legislature bypassed Gov. Rick Snyder's signature to ban insurance coverage for abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. While Sen. Gretchen Whitmer bravely spoke out against this extreme legislation that essentially demands women to purchase additional coverage if they need an abortion after a sexual assault, she revealed that she too was a rape survivor. Here's part of her statement: "This tells women that were raped and became pregnant that they should have thought ahead and planned for it. Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens' initiative. It's a special interest group's perverted dream come true." Abortion coverage may be law, but not to worry, pro-choice politicians in Michigan are already planning their next move in 2014. And we are sure state Sen. Whitmer will be critical to this campaign.

7) Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner

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Pro-choice Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner is a loud and proud advocate for reproductive rights. When anti-choice politicians introduced a bill that would ban abortion as early as six weeks - that's before most women even realize they're pregnant - Nina countered those attacks by introducing her own bill. Nina's legislation exposed her colleague's extremism toward women by turning the tables and proposing a tongue-in-cheek requirement that men attend psychological counseling to prove they are fit to get insurance coverage for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications. Her legislation would also require doctors to inform male patients about all of the potential risks of Viagra in writing. Oh snap, Nina! We can't wait to watch NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and Sen. Turner fight for women's reproductive rights in 2014!

Anti-Choice Groups in Michigan Bypass Governor to Force Abortion-Coverage Ban

The reproductive rights spotlight has been on Michigan. Anti-choice groups and politicians bypassed the governor and banned insurance coverage for abortion - even in cases of rape and incest.

Basically, ladies, that means that you're expected to anticipate your own sexual assault - or for your birth control to fail - and purchase additional insurance coverage for abortion care.

Repeat after me: no one plans for an unplanned pregnancy.

This law is so extreme that when politicians in the Michigan state legislature passed the measure last year, even anti-choice Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed it because he found it inappropriate to "tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she [needs] to select elective insurance coverage."

But Michigan Right to Life couldn't care less about women's health and well-being and they continued to push their extreme anti-choice agenda to make abortion more difficult to access. Anti-choice activists collected more than 300,000 signatures in order to bypass Gov. Snyder and put this measure before the legislature a second time. Nearly four percent of the state has decided the fate of all women in Michigan.

Many pro-choice Michigan politicians are outraged by this misogynistic legislation that specifically targets women and survivors of rape or sexual assault. Michigan state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer made sure people understood what it is all about: "This tells women who were raped ... that they should have thought ahead and planned for it... Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens' initiative. It's a special interest group's perverted dream come true."

As she cast her vote against the bill, Sen. Whitmer shared her own personal story of surviving sexual assault. You can watch it below:

Help us spread the world about how this extreme law in Michigan hurts all women and targets survivors of sexual assault in the most egregious way by sharing our graphic on Facebook.

Here's what the government is effectively saying:

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Politicians in 22 states actually require you to buy additional coverage for abortion care. But good luck trying to actually buy it. There's little evidence they actually exist.

Changes under the Michigan law don't take effect until March, but with national upset and disgust over this horrific piece of legislation, it may not be the end of the story just yet. Stay tuned in 2014.

Anti-Choice CPC Director Lashes Out at Pro-Choice Student

"Put on your big girl panties."

That's the response that was sent to a pro-choice student who wrote a letter to the editor telling his fellow students about anti-choice fake clinics known as "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs). These organizations - that often advertise themselves as comprehensive reproductive-health clinics - mislead and shame women to block them from choosing abortion and even birth control. Most people have never heard of a CPC.

Payne, a student organizer for NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota, was inspired to write to his campus newspaper when he saw that a local CPC was advertising on his campus at St. Olaf College. Unbiased health care is an issue he's passionate about, so he wanted to warn his fellow students to steer clear of the center if they wanted unbiased and medically accurate information about their reproductive options.

Addressing him as "Ms. McMillan," the local CPC director wrote him a very hostile email that included this gem: "drop out of school and ask for a refund because clearly you've spent a lot of money on an education and you haven't learned a thing." And young women in crisis are supposed to turn to her organization for compassionate help and support? You've got to be kidding.

You can read the whole email below with our helpful annotations:

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The CPC's co-director even tried to work damage control. She submitted her own LTE in an effort to make the organization's mission "transparent" without addressing their anti-choice agenda. She writes, "We believe that women need to be empowered to make their own decisions and that they should have resources and support available regardless of their decisions." Unless, of course, their decision is to choose abortion.

It's completely unacceptable that anti-choice fake clinics continue to distribute biased and medically inaccurate information to women on college campuses, including lies like most sexually transmitted diseases just go away on their own, emergency contraception causes abortion, and women who put their careers first will regret not having a family, to name just a few.

Help us fight back against these anti-choice fake clinics - add your name to our petition to call on the director of the CPC to stop distributing materials that mislead and lie about health care.

Pro-Choice Wins Of 2013 As Told By The Muppets

All in all, 2013 was a great year for getting the word out about anti-choice efforts to limit access to reproductive-health care and for the pro-choice community coming together to protect women's reproductive freedom.

Despite these anti-choice attacks, we won many pro-choice victories for women's reproductive rights in 2013. Who better to help us celebrate these pro-choice wins than the Muppets?

Have a safe and happy holiday from NARAL Pro-Choice America!

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