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Results tagged “Reproductive health” from Blog for Choice

It's back-to-school school time for students and families across the country. And that means young people will be filing into classrooms to expand their minds and learn.

But when it comes to reproductive health, many students are censored from getting the facts to help them avoid unintended pregnancy until they're ready, prevent STIs, and have a positive self-image. That's because anti-choice politicians have forced teachers to teach "abstinence-only" programs in classrooms across the country, even though they're a huge disaster:


Thankfully, cities and school districts are thinking twice about gambling with young people's futures and are putting a stop to the "abstinence-only" approach.

Just look at Baltimore. The city has developed a program that teaches students about reproductive health by having them create their own comic book about STIs and birth control. Talk about an innovative way to engage young people while also teaching them the facts!


The school district of Lawrence, Kansas is ditching the state's "abstinence-only" programs and are instead following national standards, which include information about birth control and sexual orientation and teaches that sexual development is a natural and normal part of becoming an adult.


And the second-largest school district in Oklahoma gave up on "abstinence-only" when it found that the state had the fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate.

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It's time for even more states to stand up to anti-choice politicians who are pushing "abstinence-only" programs that jeopardize young people. Withholding information about their reproductive health is never the way to go.

Did you know that 7 in 10 Americans believe in a woman's right to choose? You might be shocked to learn that even though the majority of Americans are pro-choice, our values aren't represented in Congress.

Right now, only 4 in 10 members of Congress share our pro-choice values!

Imagine all of the ways we could improve access to reproductive-health care if anti-choice politicians weren't running the show.

Here are 7 things we could do if 7 out of 10 members of Congress were pro-choice:

  1. Protect and expand reproductive rights for all women and families - today and for future generations - by passing forward-looking, proactive legislation. If we had more pro-choice champions representing our values, we could make dangerous anti-choice restrictions a memory of the past.
  2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is my personal hero. Wouldn't it be great if we had even more Supreme Court justices like her? Hobby Lobby bosses would have been told that women can't be denied birth control coverage. With 7 out of 10 pro-choice Congress members we'd be able to easily confirm Supreme Court nominees who we could count on to protect women's reproductive freedom and not rule to discriminate against women.
  3. The Supreme Court is important, but don't forget about the hundreds of judges who rule every day whether access to safe abortion care remains protected. Last year, we were so happy to hear about a federal judge in Indiana who prevented politicians in the state from withholding Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood. This decision goes a long way for thousands of women who many otherwise not be able to access health care. With more pro-choice champions in Congress, we could confirm more judges who would rule based on justice, not their personal agendas.
  4. Insurance should cover abortion. Period. That's why we'd fight to ensure that abortion care is covered for women who get their health care from the government. We could roll back bans on abortion care for women in the military, the Peace Corps, federal employees, and even women who live in D.C.
  5. We'd pass the Women's Health Protection Act into law to put a stop to anti-choice states that are closing clinics and making it impossible for some women to access abortion care.
  6. Support legislation that teaches the facts about sex - and how to stay safe and prevent pregnancy - to teens. It's time to put science back into sex education, stop with the shaming, and fund programs that work. With pro-choice elected officials fighting for pro-choice policy change, we could end ineffective, and often inaccurate, abstinence-only programs that do more harm than good for young people.
  7. And of course, we'd have no problem stopping extreme anti-choice measures, like the one that banned abortion coverage in Obamacare.

These victories would just be the beginning.

If we elect a Congress that looks like the rest of America, we'll have champions who will fight for a country where all women can have the freedom to decide their own destinies, including when, how, and with whom to start a family.

Look, this isn't going to be easy, but we can make this dream a reality if the pro-choice majority refuses to stay silent. Join the community of 7 in 10 pro-choice Americans to help us win. And share our graphic on Facebook to help get the word out:

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Choice Out Loud All-Stars: Payne McMillan


Our Choice Out Loud - On Campus representatives have done amazing work to engage the community around the issue of reproductive rights. We asked our graduating class of activists from this academic year to tell us why they decided to become a campus representative, what they accomplished, and what they've learned. Here's the latest post in this series.


Meet Payne McMillan:

What was your major?
I am an English major at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.

Why is choice important to you?
Choice is important to me because I believe that pregnancy is personal. It's nobody's business what a woman chooses to do once she is pregnant, but there needs to be structures that support her, regardless of what her decisions are. The ability to be in control of your own reproductive health is a fundamental right, as is all health care.

How did you get involved in the pro-choice movement?
I got involved in the pro-choice movement when I signed up for Students for Reproductive Health and Choice at the St. Olaf College co-curricular fair. Going to the meetings gave me insight into how important the protection of choice is and how opponents have been chipping away at reproductive rights, especially recently. It's important that men are allies and advocates; these issues don't just affect women, but they affect families and the well-being of all people. Now I will be an informed voter that makes sure to elect legislators that protect reproductive rights.

What was your favorite event that you planned as a Campus Representative?
We hosted a Faith and Choice event, where we brought in Rev. Kelli Clement from the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice as a speaker. She addressed how interconnected choice is with other areas of social justice. Her perspective showed that religion and abortion rights don't need to be pitted against each other, which is something most people don't realize.

What is/are the greatest skill or skills that you've learned from being a Campus Representative?
I've learned how to talk about these issues in an informed and respectful manner. I feel that I am well informed and can stand my ground in defending reproductive rights and educating people on the issue.

What is your earliest memory of interacting with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
I went to pro-choice lobby day in the spring of 2013 at the Minnesota Capitol. I also worked with them this fall in putting pressure on the "crisis pregnancy center" (CPC) in the town I live, Northfield.

Out of all the different ways to engage with this issue, why did you choose to engage with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
Through the campus representative program, they already had a presence at St. Olaf, which made it easy to get involved. I like NARAL because it is a powerful, established organization that works efficiently and effectively in not only protecting but expanding reproductive rights.

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Sam Brownback_small.jpgThere's something happening in Kansas that's not making national headlines but should be. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is doubling down on his anti-choice agenda. It's extreme. And he's showing no sign of stopping.

Anti-choice Gov. Brownback already signed a bill that manipulates Kansas' tax code to limit abortion care, and now he's poised to sign two more bills that would severely restrict women's access to affordable health care in the Sunflower State.

One bill - the state budget bill - includes a provision that would effectively defund reproductive-health clinics, which many women and families rely on for a full range of reproductive-health services. For many low-income families, these clinics are their only means of accessing basic health care. The second bill would extend unnecessary tax penalties on reproductive-health clinics for making renovations or even holding fundraising events!

Don't be fooled, these bills and tax penalties are really just a way for extreme anti-choice politicians to further restrict access to reproductive-health care and force their personal beliefs on all Kansas families.

Gov. Brownback has never been shy about his extreme anti-choice record: "If a pro-life bill [comes] to my desk, I will sign it. I am not backing away from that."

If he signs these bills, Gov. Brownback will pile onto his already long anti-choice resume. Just last year, Gov. Brownback signed an extreme anti-choice bill into law to effectively ban abortion in almost all cases and could outlaw many common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in-vitro fertilization.

In 2012, Gov. Brownback signed a bill that allows doctors to withhold medical information if they think it will lead a woman to choose abortion or refuse treatment like chemotherapy for cancer patients if they think it would end a pregnancy. Even worse the same bill requires that doctors lie to women.

If these attacks to deny women control over the bodies and futures weren't bad enough, Gov. Brownback has spent roughly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to defend these unconstitutional laws in the courts.

Gov. Brownback has two more chances to stand up for women's freedom and privacy. It's time that he put his anti-choice, anti-woman agenda aside and prove that he's not going to punish working families and Kansan women just to score political points.

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Do You Know Where the Candidates Stand on Choice?


Today, we launched our 2014 Voter Guide, a breakdown of choice ratings for candidates running in every federal primary elections across the country.

Imagine what we could do if politicians across the country knew voters would only support candidates who believe in a woman's right to comprehensive reproductive-health care and abortion access.

Despite the fact that seven in 10 Americans believe abortion should remain safe and legal, 53 anti-choice measures were enacted in 24 states in 2013 alone. Those restrictions included bans on abortion throughout pregnancy, legislation aimed at shutting down reproductive-health care clinics and providers, and measures to block access to birth control.

In 2014, a year with 36 senate races and 36 governors seats on the ballot, it's more important than ever that voters are aware of a candidate's position on choice and whether they would protect or restrict women's rights if elected. That's why we're holding them accountable.

Every voter needs to know who is making the pro-choice grade and who is failing.

We've seen it over and over. When voters know where candidates stand on choice, they vote pro-choice.

Not only does our 2014 Voter Guide include choice ratings on candidates, we also include voter registration deadlines in every state and easy ways to find your voting precinct location. The Voter Guide also has information on key ballot initiatives that endanger a woman's right to choose and information on how you can connect with a NARAL Pro-Choice America affiliate in your state.

Do you and your friends and family know where your representatives stand on choice?

Make sure they do. Show that you're a pro-choice voter and encourage them to find out where the candidates stand by sharing this graphic:


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One Professor's Take on A Woman's Right to Choose


Recently, there have been almost too many anti-choice sound bites to count on both hands. That's why when a pro-choice leader talks about why a woman's right to choose is essential for women's freedom and privacy, we want to make sure everyone hears about it.

NARAL Pro-Choice America was lucky enough to have R. Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School and an outspoken voice in the pro-choice community, deliver the keynote address at our Peninsula Power of Choice Luncheon. Talk about insightful!

"The bottom line is that the effort to impede access to accurate information, or to safe and legal services, has not only had the effect of preventing us from having access to abortion services but the ancillary effect of preventing access to a whole variety of medical services that affect people of every age and every type across the country. So from my perspective and in my work, abortion is not only a woman's issue and it's not only a reproductive health issue: it's a human rights issue."

We couldn't agree more! Watch the rest of her awesome speech.

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Next week, voters in Virginia will head to the polls to elect their next governor, and the choice couldn't be clearer. Terry McAuliffe is the only candidate Virginians can trust to protect women's reproductive freedom.

We've been working closely with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia to help ensure a win for McAuliffe. Right now, McAuliffe is leading the polls by 51 percent, and 24 points with female voters. Come Election Day, we'll need every one of these votes to turn out to make sure that Ken Cuccinelli doesn't take his extreme anti-choice agenda to the governor's mansion.

Choice is shaping up to be the top issue for Virginians when it comes to choosing their next governor. That's why we've been knocking on doors, calling voters, and getting the word out about how the next governor of Virginia will determine the future of reproductive rights and privacy in the state - rights that don't fit with anti-choice Ken Cuccinelli's extreme agenda.

So far we've already spoken with nearly 4,000 Virginians and handed out thousands of flyers and notices, educating voters about how this election is crucial to protecting a woman's right to choose. We launched and have graphics and facts about Ken Cuccinelli's record that voters can easily share with their friends.

This week, we began a massive phone-banking drive, making more than 1,000 calls on our first night in solidarity with pro-choice women and families in Virginia to get out the vote for Terry. And our ad campaign to reach voters in the Commonwealth is well underway. We took over the with ads for an entire day to make sure Virginia voters could learn more about Ken Cuccinelli's dangerous anti-choice agenda.

Check out our graphic and share it with your friends on Facebook:

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If you live in Virginia, make sure to head to the polls on November 5 and vote for Terry McAuliffe and candidates down the ballot who are dedicated to protecting women's personal and private decisions.

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

Chuck Todd: A Few Questions for Ken Cuccinelli


Ken Cuccinelli_small.jpg Anti-choice Ken Cuccinelli
Election Day in Virginia is fast approaching. This Wednesday, gubernatorial candidates pro-choice Terry McAuliffe and extreme anti-choice Ken Cuccinelli will go head to head in a debate over important issues for Virginia voters.

If Ken Cuccinelli uses the same strategy we've been seeing for weeks, then we can expect him to hide his true position on reproductive-health care. He has a mile-long record opposing birth control and abortion access, but now he's campaigning like a moderate to win back women voters.

That's why we need debate moderator Chuck Todd to make sure Cuccinelli doesn't get away with misrepresenting his record. It's his job to ask the important follow-up questions and hold the candidates accountable for their past actions and statements on an issue that would critically impact women and families in the Commonwealth.

Send Chuck Todd a tweet to urge him to ask Ken Cuccinelli some key clarifying questions about his views on reproductive rights for Virginians. Feel free to borrow our examples below, or make up your own questions:

#QuestionforKen @ChuckTodd: If elected governor, would Cuccinelli sign a "personhood" bill to ban abortion and types of #birthcontrol?

#QuestionforKen @ChuckTodd: How have Cuccinelli's #antichoice policies grown Virginia's economy?

#QuestionforKen @ChuckTodd: How does Cuccinelli claim he supports rape survivors if he opposes abortion?

#QuestionforKen @ChuckTodd: Does Cuccinelli support no-cost #birthcontrol coverage?

#QuestionforKen @ChuckTodd: Does Cuccinelli support Koch bros Creepy Uncle Sam ad talking college students out of #Obamacare?

We know that reproductive freedom will be a defining issue in this election and the outcome will determine whether women and families in Virginia have access to reproductive-health care and abortion services. That's why it's so important that Chuck Todd asks these critical follow-up questions so Ken Cuccinelli doesn't get away with misleading voters on his position on a women's right to choose.

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

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7 Lies CPCs Tell Women to Scare Them Out of Abortion


Have you ever seen signs that say "Pregnant? Scared?" and offer free counseling, pregnancy tests, or ultrasounds? Those are likely ads from anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) that lure women through their doors and then lie to, shame, and deceive women in order to talk them out of choosing abortion. Most people aren't even aware that these centers exist. And right now there are as many as 3,000 CPCs across the country.

Here are some of the lies you'll hear from CPC "counselors:"

CPC Lie #1: Abortion causes breast cancer.

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Yeah, about that... the most respected scientific studies all show that abortion care does NOT increase a woman's risk of breast cancer. Just ask the National Cancer Institute.

CPC Lie #2: Abortion will ruin your chances of having children in the future.

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Another scare tactic. The truth is: while any medical procedure can pose risks, research shows that early abortion care poses "virtually no risks" to long-term fertility.

CPC Lie #3: Abortion is extremely dangerous. You'll probably die if you get one.

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Actually, legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the U.S. today and it's a lot safer than giving birth.

CPC Lie #4: Having an abortion will ruin all your future relationships - and your life.

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The decision to end a pregnancy is never an easy one. But research shows that even though some women may feel sad after the procedure, many also feel relieved and grateful.

CPC Lie #5: Birth control is enslavement.

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A CPC employee was caught on tape telling a woman that taking oral contraception every day is basically enslavement. Absurd, we know. By the way, hasn't she heard of the wonder that is Nuva Ring?

CPC Lie #6: Condoms don't work.

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What happens when young people are told that condoms - which prevent pregnancy and STIs when used correctly - don't work? They DON'T USE THEM. That's how unintended pregnancies happen.

CPC Lie #7: By the way, we CPC employees aren't lying about any of this.


We can't think of anything more dangerous than pretending to give women actual medical facts or advice when CPCs are actually telling them blatant lies that could truly endanger their reproductive health.


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Texas Lawmakers' Vote Will Close Most Abortion Clinics


Texas_small.jpgIn Texas, anti-choice politicians are trying with all their might to pass new restrictions that will shut down reproductive-health clinics across the state.

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has been in the Capitol fighting back with hundreds of pro-choice activists from across the state. Yesterday, they were on the House floor with hundreds of activists in a "People's Filibuster" to show how dangerous this legislation would be for women's health and safety.

So far, over 700 people from all over the state have signed up to testify against the bill. Hundreds of these citizens' testimony was casually disregarded as "repetitive" by Rep. Byron Cook in an effort to rush a vote in his House committee. Despite this, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas' monumental effort to restore transparency to the democratic process has temporarily blocked the House from voting on the anti-choice package.

Anti-choice Gov. Rick Perry (R), who made headlines by proudly slashing critical family-planning funding in 2011, personally made sure these anti-choice restrictions were part of the agenda for a special session after legislators failed to pass them during the regular session.

If these restrictions become law, all but five abortion providers in the entire state will likely be forced to close. Low-income women and their families, already struggling to access quality care, will be forced to travel huge distances or not receive care at all.

Don't expect anti-choice politicians to stop at these restrictions - they are also scheming to ban abortion after 20 weeks.

Ohio_small.jpgOur opponents have really reached a new low in Ohio.

Anti-choice politicians are using the state budget to take essential funds away from low-income women and children and give them to anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) instead.

CPCs are anti-choice facilities that often set up next to legitimate reproductive-health clinics in order to trick women into thinking they're going to see staff who will be honest with them. Once they have confused a woman and gotten her into their doors, CPCs are likely to shame and intimidate her so that she's too scared to consider abortion. Sometimes CPC workers will flat out lie to women. That's the exact opposite of the quality, accurate reproductive-health care women need.

So let's get this straight: anti-choice politicians want to strip funding from effective programs that help low-income women and children and give those funds - taxpayer dollars - to anti-choice organizations that lie to women.

Are you outraged yet? Because that's not all...

The budget would also allow the director of the Ohio Department of Health to reject abortion providers from getting a transfer agreement with a local hospital for any reason at any time. Maybe that doesn't sound so bad. But, because of an anti-choice regulation already on the books in Ohio, every abortion provider must have such an agreement - or close their doors.

As if that isn't enough, language in the budget proposal also includes a ban on rape crisis counselors counseling about or referring for abortion care if the survivor seeking help is pregnant from the rape.

It's doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that anti-choice politicians in Ohio are unleashing an extreme anti-choice agenda that would really hurt the general well-being of tens of thousands of people.

Bottom line: This extreme anti-choice budget proposal is truly horrendous and dangerous for women's health in Ohio. If you live in Ohio or have friends there that are as appalled as we are, tell Gov. Kasich to stop these lawmakers from playing politics with women's health and veto these provisions when the budget comes to his desk.

For those of you who do not live in Ohio, show your support for women in that state by tweeting your disapproval to Gov. Kasich at @JohnKasich

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We Must Learn From the Kermit Gosnell Case


This week, a jury returned a guilty verdict in the case against Kermit Gosnell.

This man will pay the price for the horrible acts he committed. All the women whose lives were affected deserve at least this much.

The Gosnell tragedy should serve as a wakeup call that we need to work even harder to ensure that all women have access to safe and legal abortion care. We can't let anti-choice politicians use the Gosnell trial to make it even more difficult for women to access abortion care.

This is why it's so important that pro-choice people know the facts about what this trial means - and does not mean - for women.

  1. Kermit Gosnell broke the law and deserves his punishment. He is a criminal who is being rightfully punished.
  2. Gosnell does not represent safe, legal abortion in this country. Women should be able to count on abortion providers to provide the compassionate and comprehensive care that they deserve - not what Gosnell inflicted on women.
  3. Banning abortion will only force women to put their health and lives at risk to access it. Around the world, women seek abortion at the same rate in countries where it is legal as where it is banned. The difference is that making it legal allows us to make it safe. When abortion is only available in back alleys, women die.

Unfortunately, anti-choice politicians have passed restriction after restriction to make it more difficult for women to get an abortion.

Check out our graphic and share it with your friends to let them know what's at risk for women's reproductive-health and safety:


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Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault in the Military


Servicewoman_small.jpgDays after news broke that the Air Force officer overseeing the service's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program was arrested on charges of sexual assault, a Pentagon report was released showing that there were an estimated 26,000 cases of sexual assault in the military in fiscal year 2012 - a six percent increase over 2011.

It's reprehensible that this officer could have perpetuated the very same act that he's supposed to be working to end.

How we treat our service members reflects on us as a society. That's why we're working hard to make sure that our service members have the same rights as citizens here at home.

We celebrated a victory last year when Congress enacted the Shaheen amendment, which lifted the ban on sexual-assault survivors using their health insurance to pay for abortion services.

We've also been working with amazing pro-choice champions in Congress like Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who introduced the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health for Military Women (MARCH) Act which would repeal the ban on women in the military using their own money for abortion care overseas.

It's unacceptable that military women who sacrifice so much for our country are blocked from making the most personal of reproductive-health decisions.

We're optimistic that more political leaders will make ending sexual assault and ensuring service women's reproductive rights a priority. Because even one sexual assault is too many.

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Iowa_small.jpgWe were outraged to hear about Kermit Gosnell and his unsafe treatment of women who trusted him with their reproductive health.

What the anti-choice movement doesn't want you to know is that low-income women can be driven to seek medical care from individuals like Gosnell because of unfair restrictions to abortion access.

Even today, rather than work to expand women's access and prevent women from turning to back-alley abortion providers, anti-choice politicians are pushing to make it harder for women to get abortion care.

In Iowa, the state House of Representatives passed legislation that would withhold Medicaid funding for abortion providers. Here's the scariest part: Medicaid funding in Iowa only covers abortion for survivors of rape or incest, and when the woman's life is in danger.

These anti-choice politicians are heartless for wanting to cut funding for abortion care when a woman's life depends on it.

That doesn't sound very "pro-life," does it?

If they get their way, anti-choice politicians will succeed at blocking low-income women from even getting birth control and cancer screenings.

We've seen what happens when ideology trumps women's health. Before Roe v. Wade, women still sought out abortion, but they often ended up in the hands of predators like Kermit Gosnell.

If anti-choice politicians succeed in promoting their agenda - blocking access to abortion care to women who have been raped, or cutting vital health programs that prevent pregnancy - then surely these zealots must bear some responsibility for the horrors from unsafe providers like Kermit Gosnell.

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Nick is a member of NARAL Pro-Choice America's policy department and a South Dakota native.

SD flag.jpgAnti-choice politicians in South Dakota gained notoriety in 2011 by passing an extreme measure that forces a woman to submit to a state-mandated in-person lecture at an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center (CPC), wait 72 hours, and make three trips before getting abortion care. Thankfully, a federal judge blocked the 2011 law from going into effect, but anti-choice state legislators keep trying to up the ante. In 2012, they amended the law to make it even worse: now the law forces doctors to probe women about deeply personal topics, including her religious beliefs--even if against her will. Fortunately, again the courts enjoined it.

I didn't think these anti-choice politicians could take it any further, but they proved me wrong. Last week, South Dakota state Rep. Jon Hansen introduced HB 1237, a bill that would redefine the 72-hour forced delay to apply only to business days, so that weekends and holidays wouldn't count toward the three-day waiting period. This demeaning bill assumes that women can make medical decisions that impact their lives only during business hours. Apparently, on weekends and holidays women just can't think for themselves. It's insulting.

This bill would put abortion care even further out of reach for women who already live in one of the most difficult states for reproductive-health services. South Dakota has only one abortion provider, and in many cases, women must travel long distances for care. It would have the worst effect on low-income women, rural women, and Native-American women, all of whom have the hardest time getting health-care services. Facing a mandatory delay and a two-trip requirement, women also may need to take time off from work or school, and arrange for child care, transportation, and overnight stays.

I did the math: in practice, this bill could mean delays of weeks. Such a long waiting period could have serious consequences for women's health. Apparently Rep. Hansen and his anti-choice allies don't feel that protecting the health of women in South Dakota is a priority.

As NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota executive director Alisha Sedor points out, HB 1237 perpetuates "antiquated and sexist views of implying that they are unable to make decisions about their reproductive health-care if it isn't a business day."

This tone-deaf measure fundamentally misreads where South Dakotans stand on government interference in citizens' private lives. And I should know--I grew up on a third-generation family farm in the northwestern corner of the state. South Dakotans understand that politicians have no business interfering with a woman's private health-care decisions. But you don't have to take my word for it: South Dakota voters have twice rejected abortion bans at the ballot box. Anti-choice politicians just don't get it.

Maybe that's why the Rapid City Journal selected HB1237 as the "Odd Bill of the Week."

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Banning abortion in the most heart-breaking of circumstances


Recent polling shows that Americans continue to believe that it should be a woman's decision when and whether to start a family - and that abortion needs to remain an option.

When you think about a woman who chooses abortion, it's easy to assume it is due to an unintended pregnancy. But that's not the whole story.

There are also women who are happily pregnant and can't wait to welcome a child into the world. Sadly, even women with wanted pregnancies need the right to access abortion.

Dana is one of these women. When Dana went to her 29-week sonogram, she learned that there were grave complications with her pregnancy. The fetus suffered from multiple brain abnormalities and it was uncertain whether the pregnancy would survive to term.

Christy is also one of these women. Christy received a tragic diagnosis when she had a sonogram at 21 weeks pregnant when she learned the fetus she was carrying was suffering from multiple severe anomalies including a rare birth defect in which the central connecting structure of the brain is absent. Christy and her husband consulted medical experts around the world and were told that, if the fetus survived the pregnancy, which was uncertain, the baby would be in a state of near-constant seizures, requiring numerous surgeries to remove what little of the brain matter remained.

After discussing their circumstances with their families and their doctors, each woman chose abortion.

It's hard to imagine the grief Dana, Christy, and their families must have endured when they received a life-changing diagnosis.

Despite the fact that we can't know each woman's circumstances, anti-choice politicians continue working to take away a woman's right to choose what is best for her and her family in situations like this.

Who could be so heartless? Lawmakers in North Dakota, for starters. According to Buzzfeed, Americans United for Life - an anti-choice organization - is working with lawmakers in several states to block abortion access. One tactic is to criminalize doctors who provide abortion care to women facing tragic circumstances like Dana or Christy.

We will be doing all that we can to stop these bills. Please consider sharing your story so that women's voices aren't silenced in this debate.

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HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" Takes on Abortion


Samantha Frapart is the Online Advocacy Associate at NARAL Pro-Choice America

For those of you who have not finished Season 3 of HBO's Boardwalk Empire - SERIOUS SPOILER ALERT - please close your eyes and plug your ears.

If you either already watched it, or are not a fan (yet), then let's talk about how "Boardwalk Empire" impressively took on women's reproductive rights all season long. ******************************************************************************************************

I don't know what you were up to this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. ET, but I was glued to the TV as the best season of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" reached its finale.

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For those of you not yet obsessed, let me give you a quick rundown. "Boardwalk" takes place in Atlantic City during the Prohibition era. Nucky Thompson is a political figure who, behind closed doors, also happens to be one of America's most prominent gangsters. The main storyline is about the war on underground bootlegging, but Nucky's relationship with Margaret is a robust secondary story that puts a woman's right to choose at the forefront.

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Margaret has spent this season as a crusader of feminism. After witnessing a woman's preventable miscarriage (later revealed as a botched abortion), she opens a women's health clinic -- a nearly impossible feat if not for her chutzpah and Nucky's power. As this storyline progresses, we watch women struggle to get comprehensive prenatal-care education, birth control, and access to abortion care. Struggles, I recognize, that are not so outdated.

In this final episode, Margaret's fight to provide women with reproductive-health services comes full circle when she finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy. She seeks out a doctor to help her "monthly" to return (I'm sorry, her what?). Two rewinds later, I realized that Margaret had asked for (and later received) an abortion.

I must commend the writers of "Boardwalk" for tackling women's reproductive rights head on and without shame throughout the entire season. Margaret's decision (as well as those made by the other women she encounters at the health clinic) is never taken lightly. She made it thoughtfully, taking many facets, including the interests of her family, into consideration.

While "Boardwalk" takes place in the 1920's, we're still fighting some of the same battles today. Anti-choice lawmakers across the country are trying to turn back the clock on women's reproductive rights. We've seen egregious abortion bans crop up in states across the country that are especially harmful to women - like this woman in Nebraska who experienced heart-breaking complications during pregnancy. And recently, Arizona's Department of Health launched a medically-inaccurate and misleading website with a clear agenda to provide misinformation to women seeking abortion care.

There were even moments in "Boardwalk" where I couldn't tell the difference between the show and today's news. In the episode "Blue Bell Boy," a nun monitoring Margaret's prenatal care class syllabus blocks her from saying words like "vagina" and "pregnant," deeming them inappropriate. Outrageous, right? Well, it was also just last summer that pro-choice state Rep. Lisa Brown of Michigan spoke out against an anti-choice bill, but was gaveled "out of order" for saying "vagina."

BW - Margaret with Nun.JPG

I'm not saying this show is the be all and end all for women's rights on TV. No need to get hyperbolic. But the writers were successful in illustrating the shocking history of women's health in 1920's America while presenting an opportunity for us to reflect on the War on Women we face today. I consider this season a sobering reminder of the bumpy road ahead to achieving the right of every woman to make personal, private medical decisions. We cannot go back.

I urge you to check out this season and share your reactions with us via Facebook and Twitter.

Also, head over to "Boardwalk Empire's" Facebook page and tell them what you think!

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One in three American women struggles with the high cost of prescription birth control.

That's just one of the reasons why the Obama administration's new no-cost birth control regulations are so important for women's health. Making prescription birth control available without a copay will help millions of women prevent unintended pregnancy and thereby reduce the need for abortion.

A new study from The Guttmacher Institute shows why it's crucial that all women have access to birth control.

According to the study, unintended pregnancy among low-income women has increased considerably--even while it's continued to decrease among higher income women.

The report concludes that a lack of access to reproductive-health care is a key contributing factor to this disparity.

It's further evidence that no-cost birth control can't come a moment too soon.

Got questions about no-cost birth control? We've got answers.

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Fighting for Reproductive Rights for Every Woman


This post originally appeared on Latinovations' La Plaza guest-blogger series. It is posted here as part of the Latina Reproductive Justice Week of Action 2011 blog carnival.

They appeared last month in Los Angeles: billboards that read in Spanish and English "El lugar más peligroso para un Latino es el vientre de su madre/The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb."

These billboards are the latest front in a cynical campaign by anti-choice activists targeting women of color. For several years, this campaign has used inflammatory rhetoric to attack African-American women's right to make personal, private medical decisions. Now, the campaign has shifted to attacking Latinas' rights as well.

At NARAL Pro-Choice America, we believe that no woman's reproductive choices should be questioned or subjected to more scrutiny or control based on her racial or ethnic background. Being pro-choice means protecting women's access to safe, legal abortion. It also means working on ways to help reduce the need for abortion, like improving access to birth control. And it also means supporting women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term.

NARAL Pro-Choice America is the political leader of the pro-choice movement. We use the political process to elect lawmakers who share our pro-choice values and defeat candidates who don't. We also partner with sister groups that focus on reproductive justice. Reproductive justice puts choice among broader issues important to women's equality and human rights.

You can learn more about our work by checking out our Facebook page, reading Blog for Choice, or following us on Twitter.

As president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, I'm excited that members of our organization will start blogging at La Plaza. Latinas and Latinos are key leaders of the pro-choice community, and their leadership is central to the future of our cause.

Listening is the only way we will broaden our constituency of activists. And listening means recognizing that different communities of women understand and talk about choice in different ways.

More than two years ago, we convened a task force and developed a plan to translate a portion of our website into Spanish. 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.

Our team spent several months working with Ligia to produce an accurate and idiomatic translation. We're all very proud of the way they've turned out, and we'll continue to add more Spanish-language pages.

I'm looking forward to continuing a dialogue here at La Plaza. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments, either here on the comments section or at Blog for Choice, or let us know if there's a choice-related issue you're curious about, and we'll get back to you.

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How Would No-Cost Birth Control Change Your Life?


Since we launched the BC4ME Facebook application last week, more than 10,000 people have calculated how much money they would save if they didn't have to pay out-of-pocket costs for prescription birth control.

BC4ME screen shot.jpg

Their stories are amazing. 

Liliane in Pennsylvania remembers what it was like to have her husband out of work while he recovered from open heart surgery. It was tough raising three kids. She could have used every extra cent just to pay for better food for her family.  

Lauren from Virginia missed a few of her student-loan payments when she was in the Peace Corps. Before she knew it, the interest was piling up. Now Lauren isn't sure if she can afford higher education so that she can keep advancing in her career as a social worker.  

For every woman like Liliane and Lauren, there's a woman like Nicole who sacrifices her birth control because her other expenses are just too much.

These stories show how government policies will have a personal impact. How would change your life? Let us know! 

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