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Results tagged “Emergency contraception” from Blog for Choice

A Huge Victory for Emergency Contraception!

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bc-access-write-futures-red.pngThis week, the Obama administration announced that it would comply with a federal judge's ruling that emergency contraception (EC) be made available over the counter to all women without age restrictions.

Securing the ability to access EC over the counter without a prescription is a monumental win for women's reproductive freedom!

Not only does birth control prevent unplanned pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion care, it empowers women of any age to control when and whether to start a family. This essential right allows women to take better care of themselves and their families, support themselves financially, and advance their educational and career goals.

The medical community has long supported efforts to make EC available to women without a prescription. And many women's reproductive-health doctors have recognized that EC is a safe medication to be sold over the counter.

And it's certainly been a long time coming.

Unlike past presidencies, the Obama administration's decision shows that it is standing on the side of sound science. We're pleased to see that in the end, the administration recognized women's access to reproductive-health care should not be determined by politicians, but rather driven by science.

We couldn't be more thrilled that EC will finally be available to women of all ages.

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Why Young Women Need Access to Plan B

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Emma Weinstein-Levey is the press intern at NARAL Pro-Choice America

PlanB_teens_small.jpgPicture this: Your best friend calls you. She and her boyfriend practiced safe sex last night, but the condom broke. She's freaking out and doesn't know what to do. She isn't on birth control, she can't afford an unplanned pregnancy and isn't ready to become a parent, and she's afraid to tell her parents.

You tell her not to worry because she can get emergency contraception at her local pharmacy. Your friend and her boyfriend go to the pharmacy together and pick up some emergency contraception (EC) or Plan B®. Without the fear of unplanned pregnancy, she can go on with her life.

This is how it should be, right? Accidents happen, even when you're careful. So it makes sense that there should be a backup method available for when things don't go according to plan.

Sadly, that's just not the reality. Women often face shame and judgment when they try to buy Plan B® from the pharmacy, and some pharmacists refuse to sell Plan B® altogether!

Medical professionals agree that emergency contraception should be available to all women, but it's currently only available without a prescription to women over 17.

A federal judge ruled that emergency contraception should be available over-the-counter without age restrictions. But since then, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice have made matters more complicated by prioritizing politics over science.

The struggle for wider availability of emergency contraception is an integral part of choice. EC empowers young women (and men!) to take charge of their reproductive health and allows them to decide when, how, and with whom to start a family.

That's the definition of reproductive freedom.

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Why Women Need the "Morning-After" Pill

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There are plenty of reasons we should all be thankful that the medical community created emergency contraception (EC) (aka the "morning-after" pill).

I learned about it just after it became available from a good friend, who told me she took it after a condom broke during sex. Several other friends have told me similar stories since. I also think it's great that women who can't take daily hormonal birth-control pills may be able to use EC as a backup to their non-hormonal contraception of choice. And, of course, it's vital that women who are raped can get EC at a hospital. I can't imagine how horrible it would be for a rape survivor to worry about a possible pregnancy on top of the trauma she experienced from the rape itself.

While I haven't used the "morning-after" pill, I'm glad it's there for me if I ever need it. Today, EC is available to women aged 17 and older without a prescription. That means you just have to go up to the pharmacist and ask for it. Since EC is most effective up to five days after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, being able to get it without a prescription at pharmacies helps women get the medication quickly. In my opinion, that's pretty amazing. It allows women like me to take control over their own reproductive health, without needing to make an appointment at a clinic or with their doctor. Younger women still need to get a prescription and then find a pharmacist to fill it--sometimes facing barriers to timely access.

No one should be made to feel embarrassed for taking control of their own bodies and their own lives. If you've used EC, or are just grateful it exists in case you need it, you're not alone. Really, if you've had any kind of experience with any kind of reproductive-health care, you're not alone. Hundreds of women have shared their stories with us. After you read some, maybe you'll be inspired to share your own story, too.

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Meet the Candidate Who Wants to Ban Emergency Contraception

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Todd_Akin_portrait_275.jpg

Who believes that emergency contraception (EC) should be banned "totally for everyone?"

Meet anti-choice Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO).

Rep. Akin recently won a tight Republican primary to challenge pro-choice Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri this November.

If you haven't heard of Rep. Akin before, you won't be able to forget him now. Days after his victory, he confirmed his extreme anti-contraception beliefs on a radio show.

HOST: I wanted to get to the actual morning-after pill. So are you saying that you would like that to be banned for everyone, or do you have exceptions for rape and incest?

AKIN: As far as I'm concerned, the morning-after pill is a form of abortion, and I think we shouldn't have abortion in this country. [...] The life of the mother, the situation there is one where what you want to do is optimize life, you try to save the mother's life, you try to save the child. [...]

HOST: Just to be clear, though, you would like to ban the morning after pill totally for everyone?

AKIN: Yeah. I think that is a form of abortion and I don't support it.

Clearly, Rep. Akin needs a refresher course in biology. EC is contraception - not abortion. If you are already pregnant, taking EC will not affect the pregnancy.

Rep. Akin's latest extreme statement against birth control is shocking, but not too surprising coming from the guy who has voted repeatedly to defund Planned Parenthood.

Paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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In a shocking move yesterday, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) overruled a recommendation from the FDA to follow medical experts' recommendations and remove a restriction on the Plan B® emergency contraceptive.

This is the sort of move that we'd expect from the Bush administration, so it's doubly disheartening and unacceptable that a pro-choice administration chose to follow this path.

The Bush administration imposed a barrier requiring those under 18 to get a prescription and find a pharmacist willing to dispense Plan B®. (The age restriction was later revised to 17 by a federal court.)

Consider a young woman who is a survivor of rape or incest. What if she does not have the option of talking with her parents if she is from a violent home or was attacked by a relative? Under the Bush-era policy, some teens simply lost access to the medication--and likely face unintended pregnancies as a result.

By keeping the Bush-era policy in place, the Obama administration broke a key promise to the American people that it would base its decisions on sound science and what's in the best interest of women's health.

Already, more than 20,000 Americans have taken action to express their deep disappointment with yesterday's decision. Add your voice today!


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Profoundly Disappointing Decision on Plan B®

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Today, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) overruled a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to follow medical experts' recommendations and thus remove a restriction on the Plan B® emergency contraceptive.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, expressed her profound disappointment with HHS' decision:

Experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics long ago recommended that this emergency contraceptive medication be available for women of all ages. We had every confidence that this Bush-era policy would come to an end. The Obama administration has broken a key promise to the American people that it would base its decisions on sound science and what's in the best interest of women's health. In short, this is a failure to deliver change.

We expected this kind of action from the Bush administration, so it's doubly disheartening and unacceptable that this administration chose to follow this path. We had a major opportunity to improve young women's access to contraception, which is the best way to reduce the need for abortion, and the Obama administration missed the mark.

Get more on Plan B® on our website.

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At NARAL Pro-Choice America, we believe that women deserve complete and accurate information about abortion care and birth control. And when someone--or something--misleads women or withholds information about their options, we take notice.

That's why we became concerned when we learned that, according to news reports, Siri, the robotic personal assistant on Apple's iPhone 4S, was not giving women accurate answers when they asked about finding birth control or obtaining abortion care.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, just sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing these concerns:

Siri is a great tool that mixes humor and sarcasm in responding to questions--and it is another example of how your company is on the cutting edge of demonstrating how technology can transform the way we share and access information. Thus, it is disappointing to read that a tool like Siri is missing the mark when it comes to providing information about such personal health issues as abortion care and contraception.

We would be happy to meet with members of your team who oversee the Siri application to go over our concerns in person. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Let's start from the top--and give credit to those who broke the story.

When Megan Carpentier of RawStory asked Siri where she could find an abortion provider, she was directed to an anti-choice "crisis pregnancy center" (CPC):

Ask the Siri, the new iPhone 4 assistant, where to get an abortion, and, if you happen to be in Washington, D.C., she won't direct you to the Planned Parenthood on 16th St, NW. Instead, she'll suggest you pay a visit to the 1st Choice Women's Health Center, an anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) in Landsdowne, Virginia, or Human Life Services, a CPC in York, Pennsylvania. Ask Google the same question, and you'll get ads for no less than 7 metro-area abortion clinics, 2 CPCs and a nationwide abortion referral service.

Ask in New York City, and Siri will tell you "I didn't find any abortion clinics."

It's an experience that's being replicated by women around the country: despite plentiful online information about actual places to get an abortion, Siri doesn't seem to provide it. It's a similar experience for women seeking emergency contraception: in New York City, Siri doesn't know what Plan B is and, asked for emergency contraception, offers up a Google results page of definitions.

Curiouser and curiouser.

It's particularly troubling that Siri would direct women to CPCs, as many of these operations deceive and lie to women to scare them away from choosing safe, legal abortion.

We'll be following up with Siri (and "her" programmers) to ensure that women get accurate information about their personal, private medical decisions.

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Another day, another story about former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-Mass.) untrustworthiness on a woman's right to choose.

NPR turned to Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, for more information on Gov. Romney's history of phony promises:

"In Massachusetts, when he was running for governor...a very liberal state, a state that was pro-choice, he was playing to the audience," says Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "And he made promises to the pro-choice community at that time that he did not keep," she said, including vetoing a bill that would have provided emergency contraceptives to victims of rape. "So the fact of the matter is he was not authentic in his position at that time."...

Keenan says his 2005 veto of a bill to provide the so-called morning-after pill to rape victims made him even more anti-abortion than other governors who also ended up in this year's GOP presidential field.

"Pawlenty and Huntsman actually signed those bills," she said, referring to the former Minnesota and Utah governors Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman. "So you can see that he is to the right (of them) and very anti-choice."

Need more reasons not to trust Mitt Romney? We've got a bunch of them here.

Paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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More Scrutiny of Romney's Bad Record on Choice on MSNBC

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People are having a hard time trusting former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.)--and with good reason.

Back in 2002, he was trying to get elected governor in a pro-choice state. He promised NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts that he'd be a "good voice in the [Republican] party" for women's freedom and privacy.

What happened after Romney took office? He governed as a staunch opponent of a woman's right to choose.

Last night, Melissa Kogut, former executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, went on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" to talk about Romney's deception:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And just how anti-choice is Gov. Romney really?

  • So anti-choice that he vetoed a bill that would have required doctors to provide emergency contraception to rape survivors. (Fortunately, the Massachusetts legislature enacted the legislation over Romney's veto.)
  • So anti-choice that he supports defunding Planned Parenthood.
  • So anti-choice that he voiced his support for a state constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception, which is what Mississippi's "personhood" measure would do.

That's the thing about Mitt Romney: the more you know him, the less you trust him.

Paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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Pro-Choice Mitt Romney? That's So 2002!

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The Washington Post is reporting today on a meeting Mitt Romney had with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts in 2002.

Back then, when Romney was trying to get elected governor in a pro-choice state, he promised to be a "good voice in the [Republican] party" for women's freedom and privacy .

So, what happened after Gov. Romney took office?

  • He vetoed a bill giving rape survivors information about and timely access to emergency contraception. (Fortunately, the Massachusetts state legislature voted to override Gov. Romney's veto.)
  • He said the repeal of Roe v. Wade would "absolutely" be a good day for America.
  • He even voiced his support for a state constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception.

Find out more about Gov. Romney's record on choice, and judge for yourself whether he'd be a "good voice" for pro-choice Americans.

Paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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Debunking Michele Bachmann

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Last night, the Republican candidates for president met for a tea-party debate, and they made some pretty bold claims.

Here's one particularly strong assertion from Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota:

President Obama in a stunning, shocking level of power now just recently told all private insurance companies you must offer the morning-after abortion pill because I said so and it must be free of charge.

Cue the fact-checking: Rep. Bachmann is wrong. Again.

Here are the facts:

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) followed medical experts' advice and announced that newly issued insurance plans must cover all FDA-approved birth-control methods without a copay.

Emergency contraception, or the "morning-after" pill, is a type of birth control that works if taken soon after sex. The "morning-after" birth-control pill is not the same thing as the abortion pill (RU 486). Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy; it does not cause abortion. If you're already pregnant, taking the "morning-after" pill will not end the pregnancy.

Ninety-eight percent of American women use birth control at some point in their lives. A panel of medical experts at the Institute of Medicine recommended that birth control be included as no-cost preventive care in all health plans because it will help millions of women prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion.

HHS' decision to make birth control available without a copay has nothing to do with abortion. The vast majority of private insurance plans do cover abortion care, but they set their own rules on copays and fees.

So, in conclusion, Rep. Bachmann's statement is (surprise!) completely and 100 percent false. But then again, I don't think she ever was one to let facts get in the way of her extreme ideology.

Paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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Signing Up to Sign the SBA List Pledge

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been in the presidential race for less than two weeks, and he's already trying his hardest to be the poster boy for anti-choice extremists.

So, when the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List comes a-callin', Gov. Perry answers. Yesterday, the governor joined the vast majority of his fellow Republican candidates in signing the SBA List's strict anti-choice pledge.

What did Gov. Perry pledge to do? Well, for starters, appoint federal judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade, defund Planned Parenthood and the Title-X program, and only appoint anti-choice officials to executive-branch positions.

That's right: any American who believes that women and their doctors--not government--should make personal, private medical decisions need not apply to work in a Perry administration.

What about some other candidates?

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hasn't signed the pledge, but he's making it pretty clear that he's on board with the SBA List's radical agenda. And although Gov. Romney claimed to be pro-choice when it was politically convenient, a President Romney would be very bad news for women's freedom and privacy.

For example, Gov. Romney vetoed a bill that would have required doctors to provide emergency contraception to rape survivors. (Fortunately, the Massachusetts legislature enacted the legislation over Romney's veto.) Former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah actually signed a similar bill in his state.

Here's what Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, had to say about the field of Republican candidates:

The declared field of 2012 GOP hopefuls is anti-choice, therefore, no one candidate is better than the next. Although Mitt Romney claimed to be pro-choice early on in his career, his position shifted dramatically during his numerous campaigns for elective office, placing him on the wrong side of this issue. Regardless of Mitt Romney's calculated decision to decline to sign the Susan B. Anthony pledge, as long as he continues to remain anti-choice, NARAL Pro-Choice America will continue to view him as a threat to the basic rights of women.

So, there you have it from the Republican candidates: a race to one-up each other with extreme attacks on a woman's right to choose.

This GOP primary season is going to be a bumpy ride, so keep checking back with NARAL Pro-Choice America for more facts and analysis.

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Introducing Two New Web Pages in Spanish

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NARAL Pro-Choice America is excited to announce the addition of two new Spanish-language web pages. Information about anticoncepción de emergencia (emergency contraception) and centros para la atención de crisis durante el embarazo (crisis pregnancy centers) is now available en español.

More than two years ago, as part of NARAL Pro-Choice America's Diversity Initiative, we convened a task force and developed a plan to translate a portion of our website in order to reach a broader constituency.

After a great deal of discussion, collaboration with our partners at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and coordination with our talented and tireless translator, Ligia Rivera, we launched our first Spanish-language pages last summer.

Translating our pages on emergency contraception (EC) and crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) was a critical next step. There's a great deal of misinformation surrounding these topics--in large part because anti-choice activists use CPCs to dissuade women from choosing abortion. We wanted to make sure that hispanoparlantes had a place to access the facts

Our Latino Advocacy Committee (of which I'm a member) spent several months working with Ligia to produce an accurate and idiomatic translation of our EC and CPC pages. We're all very proud of the way they've turned out. It's just one small piece of our overall effort to reach out to todas y todos.

¡Échales un vistazo! Check our new Spanish-language pages on EC and CPCs, and please click the "like" Facebook link on each page if te gustan

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Fight Back Against Anti-Choice Attacks on Ella®

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You've probably already heard about ella®, the new type of emergency contraception (EC) that the FDA approved last month. ella® can prevent unintended pregnancy up to five days after sex. If a primary form of birth control fails, like a condom breaks, ella® can help.

It's no big surprise that the folks at Family Research Council, an extreme anti-choice and anti-gay organization, are already on the warpath against ella®. They have a long history of trying to confuse people into thinking that EC causes abortion (and, let's be clear, that's a big lie).

This time, the Family Research Council has banded together with other anti-choice groups like Americans United for Life and Concerned Women for America. A key part of their plot to block women's access to ella® is getting anti-choice activists to spread misinformation about the medication to pharmacists. They want to take away women's choices by convincing pharmacists not to stock this important contraceptive.

With your help, we know that we can out-activist Family Research Council. Please help us spread the truth about EC and ella®.

Every day this week, we'll tweet a new fact about EC. If you're on Twitter, please RT our post. If you don't do Twitter, post it as your status on Facebook, Tumbl it, text it to your friends, or do whatever else it takes to get the word out. If you write your own tweet about EC, be sure to use the hashtag #ECFact.

Here's today's message for you to tweet:

#ECFact: Emergency contraception is #birthcontrol, NOT abortion! http://bit.ly/9n8fTc Pls RT #prochoice #p2 #fem2

Thanks, as always, for your support. Now get posting!

FDA Approves New Emergency Contraceptive, ella®

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On Friday, August 13, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ella®, a new emergency contraception pill.  What makes ella® different from other emergency contraceptives is that it's still effective when taken up to five days after sex. 

 Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, praised the FDA's decision:

 "The FDA's approval of ella® is a sign of progress for women's access to emergency contraception and for the role of sound science at the FDA.  Emergency-contraception options like ella® are a safe, effective back-up method when something goes wrong such as if a condom breaks, or in tragic situations when a woman is sexually assaulted. This is a step forward for commonsense, common-ground ways to help prevent unintended pregnancy and thus reduce the need for abortion."

 Not surprisingly, anti-choice, anti-birth control activists are already trying to distort the facts about ella®.  Ella® and other emergency contraceptives prevent pregnancy; they do not cause abortion.  Click here to get the facts about emergency contraception. 

"It is a shame that some political pressure groups refuse to support better access to contraception," Keenan said. "They will repeat their false claim that emergency contraception is akin to abortion. That's wrong, and I am convinced the American people will continue to reject this misrepresentation."

 Ella® will be available by prescription only.  

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Today, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel voted to recommend approval of another emergency contraceptive. The expert panel's recommendation of approval for ella® to the FDA comes after more than 4,000 women participated in a rigorous clinical trial for the emergency contraceptive.

Here is a statement from Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America:
This recommendation of ella® from doctors, medical experts, and health advocates comes after a rigorous review process. Emergency-contraception options like ella® are a safe, effective back-up method when something goes wrong such as if a condom breaks, or in tragic situations when a woman is sexually assaulted. This is a step forward for commonsense, common-ground ways to help prevent unintended pregnancy and thus reduce the need for abortion.
You can read the full statement on our website, and learn more about emergency contraception here.

From personal experience, I can tell you the most important thing to remember is this: Emergency contraception is not akin to abortion. Anti-choice people will repeat this false claim, but please remember that emergency contraception prevents pregnancy and does not cause abortion. Learn more on our website.
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As many of you are likely aware by now, given the media coverage in the Associated Press and the Washington Post, an independent committee at the Department of Defense (DOD) recently added emergency contraception (EC) to the list of medications made available to servicemembers overseas. Approximately 350,000 women serve in the military or depend on military facilities for their health care abroad, so this decision couldn't have come any sooner.

That's good news, right? The vast majority of Americans would agree, but some people took the opportunity to further expose their extreme views. Who, you ask? Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America. These two anti-choice organizations are very critical of this action, and have denounced it with all the hysteria and hypocrisy we've come to expect. Concerned Women for America's Wendy Wright said:

... The military should be focusing on "discipline and proper behavior - because lives depend on it - not promoting risky behavior," as reported by LifeSiteNews.com.

Jeanne Monahan, director of Family Research Council's Center for Human Dignity commented:

"In the last year we have witnessed the Obama Administration move from the status quo of abortion as legal and available in health care plans to aggressively promoting U.S. government funded abortions."

And

"It can prevent the embryo from implanting and therefore destroy a human life..."

That's just plain absurd, but still - Monahan went on to claim, "We can all agree that there is a huge difference between preventing and destroying human life. And women in uniform deserve to know the truth about their medications."

Well, I agree with Monahan's latter statement - Women do deserve to know the truth about their medications... and the truth is that EC is simply a concentrated dose of ordinary birth-control pills that can significantly reduce a woman's chance of becoming pregnant if taken soon after sex. EC does not cause abortion (PDF); rather it is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter sales for adults in August 2006.

We know one vet that will agree with the independent Pentagon panel's decision, and that's Kayla Williams. Kayla is a friend of NARAL Pro-Choice America and is a former sergeant and Arabic linguist in a Military Intelligence company of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). During her year in Iraq, Kayla spent her time at the forefront of U.S. interactions with Iraqis, while simultaneously navigating the challenges that come with being part of the 15 percent of the Army that is female.

In a blog post for VetVoice - the online home of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans - Kayla blogged about sex in the military and her support for the Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act:

Women in the military may not like to talk about it, since many of us are still fighting to prove that we belong in the military and do our jobs well. Quite frankly, I don't want to talk about sex in a war zone - I want to talk about how women are proving ourselves not only competent but indispensable in counterinsurgency.

But the reality is that humans do have sex. The Army even lets married soldiers live together in Iraq. Condoms are sold at the PX. And - tragically - nonconsensual sex happens too; the DoD reports that reports of sexual assaults are on the rise, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Go Kayla! - and thank you for your service.

One final note: In an editorial, The New York Times agreed with Kayla and applauded the Pentagon panel's decision and even went a step further, calling for an end to the anti-choice policy that prohibits servicewomen's access to abortion, even when they use their own money:

Next, Pentagon officials and members of Congress need to address the callous treatment of servicewomen with regard to abortion. Under current rules, military doctors may perform abortions only in cases of rape, incest or when the women's lives are endangered. And even in cases of rape and incest, the women must pay. It is outrageous that politics is allowed to interfere with the health care decisions of women who wear the nation's uniform.

Be sure to read the entire column and share it with your friends and family.

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A Mid-February Update

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I know, I know, it's been a while since our last update. It's not a good excuse, but remember that whole DC "Snowpocalypse" thing? Yeah. It was that bad, and it set me back a bit, so apologies for the lack of blog posts. Before we get back to the regularly scheduled blogging, I wanted to give you an update of what's been going on in the world of choice-related news. I hope this is helpful.

So-Called "Personhood" Measures are the New Abortion Ban: Mississippi and Colorado - get ready to fight because anti-choice opponents set their sights on outlawing abortion in your states. Late last week and early this week, anti-choicers put the wheels in motion to get anti-choice "personhood" measures on the ballot. In Mississippi, the Associated Press reported:

Personhood Mississippi, led by Les Riely of Pontotoc, delivered petitions with signatures of 105,167 people on Tuesday. The group's goal is to extend rights to fetuses and stop abortion in Mississippi. Similar efforts have been under way in several other states, including Colorado, Florida, Montana and Nevada.

In Colorado, the Denver Post noted:

So-called "Christian soldiers" announced Friday that they have handed in the thousands of signatures needed to place the Personhood Colorado amendment on the 2010 ballot. But proponents of the anti-abortion measure fell well short of the 131,000 signatures submitted for a similar amendment in 2008. This year they will be handing in only 79,817 signatures, just 3,770 more than then 76,047 valid signatures needed for the Secretary of State's office to certify the initiative for the ballot.

Thankfully, our colleagues at NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado are working hard to defeat this extreme measure in their state, just as they did in 2008.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T: An independent Pentagon panel's decision to ensure military women have access to EC at military health facilities received excellent coverage in The New York Times this weekend. The "Gray Lady" even called for an end to the anti-choice policy that prohibits servicewomen's access to abortion, even when they use their own money:

Next, Pentagon officials and members of Congress need to address the callous treatment of servicewomen with regard to abortion. Under current rules, military doctors may perform abortions only in cases of rape, incest or when the women's lives are endangered. And even in cases of rape and incest, the women must pay. It is outrageous that politics is allowed to interfere with the health care decisions of women who wear the nation's uniform.

It's a must read, and a must share.

Things May Go South for Some Women in North Carolina: This week, we learned that county employees of Wake County, North Carolina, might lose abortion care from their insurance policy. NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina calls this move "a slap in the face to every female employee" and is standing up to this attack on choice at the local level.

Because Crazy Talk Never Goes Out of Style: All this unexpected snow in Washington, D.C. must have sent crazy dust across the country. This week, we had not one, not two, but three extreme examples of crazy-talk from anti-choicers. Let's file these under ARE YOU KIDDING US WITH THIS?

Via Hotline's Wake-Up Call, courtesy of the Associated Press:

A Tea Party organizer in eastern WA who told a crowd that she'd like to "hang" Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) says her remark "was taken out of context," and that she meant she'd like to "hang Patty Murray, by vote."

Uhhh, WHAT? Statements like that have no place in the political dialog and, in fact, are downright scary.

The New York Times' Caucus Blog reported on a speaker, Jason Mattera, who bashed President Obama at the infamous Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). That alone doesn't surprise anyone, but highly-insensitive remarks like the one below gave cause for a double take (or read, rather):

He then mocked what he described, with a Chris Rock voice, as "diversity," including, he said, college classes on "cyber feminism" and "what it means to be a feminist new black man." Describing the latter, he said: "Think of a crossover between RuPaul and Barney Frank."

REALLY, Mr. Mattera? Really?

Finally, Ken Blackwell - senior fellow at the Family Research Council, visiting professor at Liberty University School of Law, and chairman of Ohio Faith and Freedom Coalition - was at it again this week, this time attacking Dawn Johnsen, President Obama's nominee for a top job at the Justice Department:

If Mr. Obama is serious about civility he needs to withdraw Dawn Johnsen's nomination. If she is confirmed, we will see a radical anti-Catholic, pro-abortion zealot influencing policy th[r]oughout the Justice Department--but also policy throughout the entire federal government.

Riiiiiiiiiight. Ironic that Ken Blackwell is calling someone other than himself a radical and a zealot.

The Problem with Pro-Choice Men?: Nope, that isn't a set-up to a lame joke, but rather the subject and headline of an article that ran in the Daily Beast.

Pro-choice activists argue that there's more to the issue than one poll, however. Ted Miller, Communications Director at NARAL Pro-Choice America, points to South Dakota. When a legislative ban on abortions was defeated in 2006, anti-abortion activists claimed that a similar bill, with exceptions for rape and incest, would pass in the next legislative cycle. In 2008, the bill, now with exceptions, was handily defeated again, and both pre- and post-polling showed men and women equally against it.

... Miller says that NARAL's ongoing research project among young voters has found that of those who "were supportive of a woman's right to choose... almost all the young men talked about women in their lives who had gone through the experience of choosing abortion."

We thought it was an interesting piece, and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Finally, we'd like to offer pro-choice Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) our best wishes for a speedy recovery following his diagnosis of stomach lymphoma. The entire staff of NARAL Pro-Choice America will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

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Breaking News on Emergency Contraception

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Kristin Koch is the Deputy Director of Communications for Online Advocacy Strategies for NARAL Pro-Choice America.

I have huge news!

After years of struggling to make sure women serving in the military overseas have access to emergency contraception, the Department of Defense has just approved a policy that would guarantee access!

This policy shift from the Defense Department is a major victory for women's health and women's rights, and will help the 350,000 women who serve in the military or depend on military facilities for health care.

Until now, if a woman serving in the military stationed overseas is raped, there's a good chance she won't be able to get emergency birth control that can prevent a pregnancy, simply because the base's health facilities don't stock it.

What could only make this situation even worse is the fact that anti-choice politicians have fought for years to keep it that way.

It's probably not surprising that the Bush administration is to blame. In 2002, the Department of Defense issued the same recommendation that it did today, but then-President Bush's political appointees overruled it without explanation.

To add insult to injury, anti-choice groups like Concerned Women for America and Family Research Council, along with members of Congress who oppose birth control like anti-choice Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak from Michigan, have since opposed efforts by members of Congress to fix this problem.

Fortunately, unlike his predecessor, President Obama supports the decisions of medical experts and policy recommendations based on science-not politics.

Now we just need to make sure that anti-choice ideologues don't threaten military women's access to emergency contraception again. Send Secretary of Defense Robert Gates a quick note supporting the policy and urging him to stand behind it.

NARAL Pro-Choice America has been fighting to change this outrageous unacceptable policy for years. In just the past few months, we worked with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Rep. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) to introduce the Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act. This bill was a legislative response to the political interference during the Bush era.

For your consideration, a short play:

[fade in Western music. A tumbleweed blows across the dusty street.]

Obama: This town ain't big enough for the both of us, Bushy.

Bush: I guess it's time for me to be hittin' the ol' dusty trail...peace out.

Obama: I reckon I'll be fixin' all the anti-choice policies you put in place. Now go on, git!

The End. 

I'm feeling a little Western today, clearly. But the point is that we were all psyched for Bush to leave town and take his anti-choice nonsense with him, but he couldn't resist hacking away at our rights just one more time. (Or at least this had better be the last thing he does, ugh).

Learn all about Dubya's newest - and hopefully final - outrageous attack against choice in this week's Liberty Lowdown

Bush's regulation to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is almost the perfect way for him to go out. With this regulation, women all over the country would quietly be denied reproductive health care - and wouldn't be able to do anything about it. They could be denied birth control, emergency contraception, and even referrals from their doctors, hospitals, even the clinic's front desk. NOT GOOD.

Take your first action to incoming President Obama (yay!) and tell him to reverse Bush's last stand against choice. Go'on now, ya hear?

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