In November, every pro-choice person in the country is going to wish they lived in Virginia just so they'd get the chance to vote against Ken Cuccinelli for governor. Don't get me wrong, they'd be happy to vote for Terry McAuliffe because he's a committed pro-choice supporter who will fight all the attacks coming out of Richmond. But Cuccinelli's devotion to "crisis pregnancy centers"(CPCs) that lie to women and his disturbing record as an anti-choice crusader makes him one of the worst politicians we've seen.
It's kind of a challenge even to narrow down the worst things he's done... but since we know it's hard for most people to keep track of all 228,431,970 anti-choice attacks he's launched, here are our top five:
This is a no-brainer: Ken Cuccinelli wants to ban all abortion. Period. Even for women who have been raped. He opposes abortion so much he said he wants "to make abortion disappear in America." Really? Where's it going to go?
Come on, Ken, the only thing more dangerous than closing clinics that provide actual health care to women is supporting fake clinics that lie to and shame women instead. Naturally, that's one more thing Ken Cuccinelli thinks is awesome.
CPC Lie #2: Abortion will ruin your chances of having children in the future.
Truth: Another unfounded claim. The Guttmacher Institute explains, "The preponderance of evidence from well-designed and well-executed studies shows no connection between abortion and future fertility problems." And according to the Mayo Clinic, abortion (both surgical and medical) does NOT harm a woman's chance of getting pregnant or having a healthy pregnancy in the future.
CPC Lie #3: Abortion is extremely dangerous.
Truth: The National Abortion Federation reports that legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the U.S. today. Of the women who received early care - when the majority of women end their pregnancies - "97% percent of women report no complications, and less than 0.5% have more serious complications that require some additional surgical procedure and/or hospitalization." In fact, the complication rate of legal, medically supervised, first-trimester abortion in the United States is significantly lower than the complication rate of most other common outpatient procedures.
CPC Lie #4: Having an abortion will ruin your life.
Truth: The decision to end a pregnancy is a deeply personal one and can elicit a wide variety of emotions, but research has found that "[w]hile some women may experience sensations of regret, sadness or guilt after an abortion, the overwhelming responses are relief and happiness." Another Guttmacher study found that most women do not feel regret after having an abortion procedure. In order to make the best decision for her and her family, a woman must have accurate and comprehensive information. If CPC employees really cared about women's mental health, they wouldn't subject them to coercion and shame.
These lies are designed to scare women out of choosing abortion care. When a woman doesn't have honest information about her options, it could endanger her reproductive health. And it's happening across the country. There are 34 states that currently support these dangerous centers with taxpayer dollars. Is your state one of them?
Just over one year ago, Obamacare made contraceptive services
available to women at no out-of-pocket cost, thanks in large part to your hard
work. Under the new health-care law, prescription birth control,
mammograms, STI counseling and treatment, and other services are now available
without a co-pay. This is huge. Because over half of women 18-34
have struggled to afford prescription birth control, ensuring access to
affordable birth control marks the greatest advancement for women's health in a
generation. And already it's helped more than 27 million women. But
even as we celebrate the benefit's first anniversary, many women are still
footing the bill for their birth control. And they want to know why.
If this has happened to you, you're not alone. Since the
birth-control policy first went into effect on August 1, 2012, women's health
advocates have heard similar stories--those of women facing co-pays at the
pharmacy counter and insurance companies falling short of delivering on the
law's full promise.
First, remember that Obamacare requires that all "new" health
plans must comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement. "New" means
plans that were created or purchased after Obamacare was enacted. Old
plans--called "grandfathered" plans--don't have to comply. But keep in mind
that "grandfathered" plans won't be grandfathered forever--if they change their
plans in a substantial way, they lose that status. In fact, we expect 90%
of grandfathered plans to lose their status in the next year or so, at which
point they will be required to comply and provide birth control without a
co-pay. So if your plan is grandfathered, that might be the reason you're
still being charged a co-pay. Ask your benefits administrator if your health
plan is grandfathered.
But if you're being charged a co-pay, it could also be because
your insurance company believes that Obamacare allows it to pick and choose the
contraceptives they cover cost-free. They have some wiggle room, to be
sure. But even so, the birth-control policy is stronger than some
companies think it is. Here's the skinny.
Some insurance companies are interpreting a section of the law
that lets them control costs to also allow them to charge a co-pay for some
forms of birth control but not others. This is why some women are being told
that they can't get the Nuva Ring without co-pay, or that only generics are
covered without a co-pay. Our allies raised concerns about this, and here's
what the government said in reply:
Your insurance company can charge you a co-pay
for a name-brand contraceptive, but only if there's also a generic version
available. If there isn't a generic version, they have to cover the
name-brand drug without a co-pay.
And if your doctor determines that the name-brand drug
is "medically appropriate" for you, then your insurance company must
provide a waiver process that will let you get your name-brand birth
control without a co-pay (see question 14 of the FAQs: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq-aca12.html). (Keep in mind, this is different than the typical appeal consumers file
when they're denied coverage for a service.)
If you're one of the women experiencing problems here, head over
to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) website--they've built a toolkitto help you fight
for the coverage Obamacare says you should have. Its got answers to the
questions women are asking, a fantastic script to use when you call your
insurance company for answers, and sample letters to send your insurance
company if they charge a co-pay for your specific type of birth control.
You can also call NWLC at 1-866-PILL4US. They may have already
received complaints like yours and can more quickly point you to a solution.
The bottom line is, don't give up! It may take some work, but we
fought too hard for birth-control coverage to give up easily! Not only
that, but the work you do to educate your insurance company could make all the
difference in the world for other women in your plan who may be missing out on
the birth-control benefit.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Sen. Nieves' claim is not only blatantly false, but has extremely dangerous implications. One of the reasons we fight so hard to protect a woman's right to choose is because a woman's life can depend on her accessing abortion care.
Women like Jamie, who are unable to carry a pregnancy to term because of medical complications, would die if denied abortion care. And women like Beverly know firsthand how access to abortion care can be crucial to saving a woman's life - she would have lost her mother from pregnancy complications if a doctor had not performed a life-saving abortion, which was illegal in the days before Roe v. Wade.
It's outrageous that Sen. Nieves is so quick to dismiss life-saving care as a "matter of convenience." Apparently, protecting a woman's health and safety is inconvenient for this anti-choice extremist.
Executive director of North Dakota Right to Life claimed that these plastic figures "have nothing to do with abortion," which is pretty absurd considering that organizers at the booth were handing out "educational" pamphlets with the figures that said, "Week 1: conception; the baby is smaller than a grain of sugar, but the instructions are present for all that this person will ever become."
One mother who attended the fair expressed her outrage that anti-choice activists were imposing their views on her children:
"My kids can read, I shouldn't have to explain to five and six-year olds what abortion is at a family event. I doubt these people would be allowed to hand out condoms to little kids. But it's okay to talk to them about abortion without my permission?"
The whole story is deeply unsettling. And it goes to show that anti-choice activists have no problem crossing the line to impose their extreme anti-woman agenda on children.
"I don't think [supporting a woman's right to choose] makes me -- or any other 14-year-old girl who agrees with me -- a whore.
It simply makes us people. People who believe that abortion should be safe, legal and accessible for women. People who believe women should be in control of their bodies and should not ever have to put their lives at risk so that we don't go backwards in women's rights in this country.
Normally, I prefer to look up to adults as role models. But what is happening in Texas right now it's hard to find adults who I want to look up to. I'm not going to let someone calling me a whore stop me from fighting for what is right for all women. I'm not going to let the bullies win in the fight over women's bodies."
We couldn't agree more.
While it's disgusting to see anti-choice bullies shame young women for supporting women's reproductive freedom, at least the battle for women's health in Texas has cast a spotlight on what anti-choice politicians and their allies are really trying to achieve: taking away a woman's ability to decide whether and when to start a family.
Once the bill goes into effect, the drastic reduction in clinics will eliminate family-planning services, reproductive-health care, and cancer screenings for many low-income families who may have no other options to access care. The bill will also have devastating consequences for women's access to abortion services.
"The gallery was full, as was the auditorium where the proceedings were being streamed. Hallways and elevators and stairwells buzzed with activity.
Suddenly an urgent "Shhhhhhhh!" passed from person to person in the group closest to the television. The roar of the bustling room dropped to a hush. This had been the third point of order and the sound was back on. I could feel our collective hearts drop. Sustained. They had killed the filibuster, grasping at absurd straws in an effort to silence Wendy Davis and all of us. I was aware here of the beginning of a certain level of unity--focused, bold, determined--that would come to define the rest of the night. As far as we knew, the filibuster had been broken, which meant the bill would pass, and our reproductive freedom was about to be ripped out from under us.
Crowding onto the terrazzo of the rotunda, surrounded by stately portraits and the soft white glow of the building's interior, our voices began to rise. Louder and louder we grew, until we were chanting as one: "Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!" The force of passion in the building could have lifted the roof off, not to mention the sheer volume of sound. It grew into one neverending cry of outrage in between chants, until a group of state representatives appeared on the west side of the second floor balcony. I recognized Dawnna Dukes, Senfronia Thomas, and Borris Miles. They were telling us that it wasn't over. The senators were appealing the ruling. They were pleading with us to wait quietly. They motioned dramatically with their hands: "Wait here. We'll be back." It was around this time that we learned that all entrances to the Capitol had been locked due to the crowd's unrest, and no one was allowed in or out. We sat down on the floor of the rotunda. The temperature in the room had started to rise. Food and water were brought in and passed around. We waited, texted, checked social media.
As 11:00 approached, the mood in the room grew tense. We weren't sure what was happening in the gallery. We began counting down. People inside began getting to their feet again until we were all standing.
At 11:42 we began to hear cheering from upstairs and someone appeared at the railing of the highest balcony yelling hoarsely at us to start making noise. Around this same time came the news of Senator Van de Putte's powerful question. Our supporters in the gallery had disrupted the session by standing and cheering and they were refusing to stop.
If we could hear the couple hundred of them shouting, they would certainly be able to hear one or two thousand people in the center of the building. Like a match had been lit, the rotunda exploded in an uprising of sound that swelled above us to a chill-inducing, ear-splitting pitch. "WEN-DY! WEN-DY! WEN-DY!" "WHOSE HOUSE IS IT? OUR HOUSE! WE WON'T GO BACK!" "OUR BODY! OUR CHOICE!" We screamed and clapped and cheered as if our lives depended on it. Our freedom certainly did. The sound seemed to hang in the air above us and feed back, ringing out the power of hundreds and hundreds of voices screaming for equality.
Midnight came and went. Dozens of troopers entered the gallery and began physically removing people while confusion set in downstairs. It appeared a vote had happened, albeit illegally, and that nothing would be settled by night's end. A sizable crowd was gathered outside the Capitol when we left. We witnessed some dramatic arrests being made.
I got home shortly after 2:00 a.m. and learned then that, amazingly, the bill was dead. Dewhurst had ultimately been forced to concede to the objectivity of the clock. Here in Texas we are used to losing these battles, so the next morning dawned with a kind of hope and pride we haven't felt in a long time. But within 24 hours, Rick Perry called another special session. But something has changed in a huge number of us: we are tired, really tired, of being devalued, threatened, and ignored. We will not stand by while our most personal rights are stripped away.
Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, discussed new anti-choice legislative attacks across the country and politicians' cheating tactics on "Hardball with Chris Matthews."
"[Anti-choice politicians'] goal has remained the same: to outlaw abortion as well as women's other reproductive choices...What's more interesting is how they're resorting to do it. These politicians in Texas and North Carolina, and I'm from Texas as well, know that they don't have popular support on their side, and so they're resorting to cheating, changing the rules, doing these things under the dark of night.
I think women have had enough. That's what we're seeing in Texas and in North Carolina. We're getting calls from national members everywhere asking "what can we do?" This is it, this is enough. We will support Texas, we will support North Carolina, and we will get these folks out of office that are driving these extreme policies that are bad for women, and bad for our families."