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Results tagged “abortion restrictions” from Blog for Choice

War on Women Continues in Ohio

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It's the heat of summer, and anti-choice politicians are still finding the time to wage their war on women's health care!

Yesterday, anti-choice Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a far-reaching ban on abortion care into law

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, called the new law another example of political intrusion in the doctor-patient relationship:

This intrusive new law will force women who face serious health problems later in their pregnancies to wait until their lives are in jeopardy before a doctor can legally terminate their pregnancy and has no exception to provide care for women carrying a fetus with a severe anomaly. Ohio is on the fast track to becoming the most dangerous state in the country for pregnant women.
 
Last fall, Governor Kasich promised voters that he would work tirelessly to create jobs and grow our economy. Instead he has joined the legislature's War on Ohio Women. He and the Ohio Legislature are endangering women's health because they don't trust women and their doctors to make personal, private decisions for themselves.

Hmm, a politician promising to focus on jobs and the economy, and then turning around and waging a War on Women? Sounds like a familiar story. 

Kudos to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio for standing up for women in the Buckeye State. 

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Anti-Choice Sneak Attack in Ohio

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Imagine you're an anti-choice state legislator. You want to introduce extreme anti-choice bills, but every time you do this, people wonder why you're focusing on attacking women's health care instead of creating jobs and growing the economy. So what do you do?

How about sneaking your anti-choice attack into a budget bill at the last minute, without any public commentary? And then turning your phone off so that you don't have to hear from your outraged constituents?

That's exactly what the anti-choice leadership of the Ohio state Senate did yesterday. The senators inserted language into the budget bill that would ban abortion care in all hospitals that receive state money.

Here's what Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, had to say about this outrageous legislative maneuver:

It is obvious that Ohio Senate leaders know this move is shameful; they waited until the eleventh hour to launch this attack so that no public testimony opposing these dangerous measures could be heard. They've even stopped answering their phones.

It's just further evidence that anti-choice politicians will advance their War on Women by any means necessary. Kudos to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio for catching them in the act. 

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A quick update from the Sunflower State.

The Kansas legislative session is coming to a close, but anti-choice lawmakers made the most of an opportunity to send even more anti-choice legislation to Gov. Sam Brownback

One extreme bill makes it all but impossible for insurance plans to cover abortion care, thus forcing women to plan for an unplanned pregnancy. 

But that's not so bad, says one anti-choice legislator. After all, he keeps a spare tire in his car, which is totally the same thing:

During the House's debate, Rep. Pete DeGraaf, a Mulvane Republican who supports the bill, told [pro-choice Rep. Barbara Bollier]: "We do need to plan ahead, don't we, in life?"

Bollier asked him, "And so women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with a pregnancy?"

DeGraaf drew groans of protest from some House members when he responded, "I have a spare tire on my car."

"I also have life insurance," he added. "I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for."

Wow.

Comments like these might give one the impression that Rep. DeGraaf doesn't respect women very much.

If only we could keep a spare legislator around for such occasions!


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Kansas Enacts Far-Reaching Abortion Ban

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Yesterday, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas signed extreme anti-choice measures into law


Like many politicians in other states, Kansas legislators have clearly abandoned their promise to focus on jobs and the economy to advance a ban that directly interferes in a woman's relationship with her doctor. Bans like this one could deny needed care to women with wanted pregnancies who experience heart-breaking complications, such as a fetal anomaly. This extreme bill is out of step with the values and priorities of Kansas voters.

Kansas is one of the 11 states in which an anti-choice governor replaced a pro-choice one after the 2010 elections. So, as we've said before, elections matter. 

From Washington to Topeka, anti-choice politicians are making government just small enough to fit in your bedroom or inside your medicine cabinet. 

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South Dakota Passes First-of-its-Kind Assault on Women's Privacy

South Dakota has opened a new front in the War on Women. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has signed an unprecedented bill that expands the state's already considerable interference in the personal, private decisions of South Dakota women. 

The legislation is HB 1217, which forces a woman to undergo an in-person lecture at a "crisis pregnancy center" (CPC), many of which are biased, anti-choice, anti-contraception facilities whose sole purpose is to talk women out of considering abortion. The woman must make this visit even if it is against her will.

CPCs are notorious for intentionally misleading women seeking information about reproductive-health care. In fact, some centers force women to watch antiā€abortion films, slide shows, photographs, or hear lectures. Others refuse to provide information about or referrals for birth control, or spread misinformation such as "condoms don't protect against HIV/AIDS."

NARAL Pro-Choice America has been at the forefront of documenting the growing CPC trend for more than a decade. For more information about CPCs, see NARAL's fact sheet.

Isolating South Dakota Women

When facing the private decision of terminating a pregnancy, many women rely on trusted partners, friends, ministers, relatives, and loved ones for support. The new South Dakota law allows an anti-abortion organization to dictate who a woman could have with her at a "counseling session" - allowing the staff to separate a woman from the friend or relative who accompanies her.  

The 72-Hour Waiting Period

In addition to forcing women to undergo an in-person lecture from an anti-choice organization, HB 1217 also requires her to delay abortion care for 72 hours, which could threaten her health. In a rural state like South Dakota, this requirement could mean a forced delay of days or even weeks, compelling women to undergo later abortion care that poses increased health risks. South Dakota's waiting period would be the longest in the country.

Statement from NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota

If you plan to write on this unprecedented bill, feel free to use the following quote for attribution from Alisha Sedor, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota:

"Gov. Daugaard is ignoring the citizens of South Dakota, who have twice expressed that they do not want the government to intrude on their private medical decisions. It is outrageous for politicians to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship in such an egregious way.  Forcing women, against their will, to consult with an unlicensed, anti-choice, individual about their pregnancies flies in the face of patient privacy."

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It's been a busy day in the states. Choice-related bills are being considered in Ohio, New Hampshire, and New York City. When it comes to their effect on women's freedom and privacy, these bills range from good to bad to downright atrocious.

First, the good news.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, the New York City Council just passed a bill that requires anti-choice Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) to adhere to truth-in-advertising standards. 

CPCs are fake clinics that are often staffed by anti-choice activists who mislead and lie to women about abortion and birth control. The primary reason they exist is to dissuade women from choosing legal abortion care. 


Kudos to NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and to the New York City Council for standing up for a woman's right to receive medically accurate information!

Now on to some bad news.

NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire is reporting that a bill imposing a dangerous parental-involvement mandate just got one step closer to passage. This bill would require young women who seek abortion care to tell their parents or go to court, even if they come from homes with physical and emotional abuse.

Pilar Olivo, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire, said the bill would jeopardize young women's health and safety, noting that "if a young woman has been raped, she should get to decide who she gets to talk to first."

New Hampshire's previous parental-involvement mandate was repealed in 2007 by pro-choice Gov. John Lynch and a bipartisan coalition of New Hampshire legislatorsNARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire will continue to fight this dangerous bill.

Now on to the Buckeye State, which wins today's award for biggest anti-choice side show.

Anti-choice state legislators in Ohio recently introduced a bill that could ban abortion care before a woman even knows she's pregnant.

Today, the Ohio House Health Committee held a hearing on the bill, during which anti-choice lawmakers called on a fetus to "testify." At the same time, the committee's chairman barred testimony from women who have chosen abortion care. (I guess women don't have anything to say in the matter.)

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, called the hearing a media stunt

It is clear that this committee is more interested in making headlines than discussing how to improve women's access to health care or create good jobs in our state. This bill could entangle Ohio in an expensive legal fight, and is out of touch with our state's values and priorities.

It is beyond disappointing that the committee won't allow video testimony so they can hear from women who have made the profoundly personal decision to terminate a pregnancy. The politicians behind this bill refuse to acknowledge what Ohioans understand: Every woman's situation is different, and it's unacceptable for anti-choice lawmakers to think they should make the personal, private decisions that belong to women and their doctors.

Kudos to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio for standing up to anti-choice politicians and their backwards priorities. 

Thanks also to NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, which is standing up against anti-choice Gov. Scott Walker's attempts to bring his own War on Women to the Badger State.

And a shout-out to our entire network of state affiliates, who fight to protect women's freedom and privacy in statehouses and city councils across the country. 


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Anti-choice lawmakers in Ohio have introduced one of the most dangerous and extreme attacks on choice in the country

Under the provisions of a new bill, abortion care could be banned as early as the fifth week of pregnancy--before many women even know they're pregnant! Doctors who provide abortion care after that point could face up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine. 

Ohio is currently facing an $8 billion budget shortfall, yet anti-choice politicians in Columbus are making attacks on a woman's right to choose a top priority. In the last two weeks, they've introduced five bills that interfere with a woman's ability to make personal, private medical decisions. And with a new anti-choice governor and state legislature, these dangerous bills could very well become law.

Our colleagues at NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio are fighting against these attacks on women's freedom and privacy. Kellie Copeland, the organization's executive director, called out the anti-choice legislative leadership for pulling a bait and switch on Ohio voters:

Ohio's new legislative leadership campaigned on a promise of creating jobs and revitalizing the economy. Instead, at the first available opportunity, these politicians are pushing an anti-choice agenda that is out of touch with Ohio's values and priorities. Ohio's anti-choice politicians who campaigned on less government intrusion in our lives are actually fine with government intrusion as long as it involves the personal, private decisions that take place between a woman and her doctor.

It's the same anti-choice hypocrisy we're seeing in Congress and in statehouses across the country

Kudos to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and all of our state affiliates for fighting against these dangerous attacks on women's health. 

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South Dakota Bill Would Force Women into CPCs

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Yes, you read that headline right. (After all, it's Valentine's Day, not April Fools'.)

Anti-choice lawmakers in South Dakota have introduced a bill that would force women to submit to an in-person lecture from an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center (CPC) before receiving abortion care. 

CPCs are fake clinics often staffed by anti-choice activists who mislead and lie to women about abortion and birth control. The primary reason they exist is to scare women away from choosing legal abortion care. 

Don't want to go a CPC? Want medically-accurate information from your own doctor? Think you're the best person to make your own personal, private medical decisions? 

Too bad!

Alicia Sedor, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, who testified against this bill at a committee hearing this morning, called it an unbelievable intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship:

This bill is beyond intrusive. These politicians want to tell women who they can talk to before making a profoundly personal medical decision. It is hard to out-do insurance companies and HMOs when it comes to being told what doctor you can see or where you can access medical care, but the legislators behind this bill are doing just that. They want South Dakota to become the first state to pass a bill that disrespects the doctor-patient relationship and turns women's health care into a game of government mandates.

In addition to forcing women to have an in-person interview at an anti-choice organization, the bill also requires that a patient wait a minimum of 72 hours before obtaining care, which could threaten her health. In a rural state like South Dakota, this could mean a forced delay of days or even weeks, compelling women to undergo later abortion care that poses increased health risks.

In 2006 and 2008, South Dakota voters rejected near-total bans on abortion care by wide margins. But anti-choice politicians in Pierre keep coming back for more attacks. 

This outrageous bill passed out of committee this morning, and could be considered by the full state House as early as this week. NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota is working tirelessly to protect access to reproductive-health care in the Mount Rushmore State, and ensure that no politician comes between a woman and her doctor. 

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Elizabeth Shipp, political director at NARAL Pro-Choice America, has a new post up on The Huffington Post calling out the hypocrisy of the new anti-choice members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The post's key theme is that elections have consequences. 


In The Huffington Post and other major media, NARAL Pro-Choice America is getting the word out about the dangerous and extreme "Stupak on Steroids" agenda

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Rather than worrying about jobs and the economy, the anti-choice leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives is devoting two days to attacking women's health care.

Yesterday afternoon, the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on H.R.3, the "Stupak on Steroids" bill introduced by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey

The committee's anti-choice leadership brought in two "expert" witnesses. The first was Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Whether Mr. Doerflinger was called as an expert on women or on medicine, I'm not quite sure.) The second was Cathy Ruse from the Family Research Council.

Ruse and Doerflinger tried their best to downplay just how extreme H.R.3 is, casting it as merely a continuation of existing policy. Their claim couldn't be farther from the truth, so let's get to the facts:

  1. This bill is not about public funding. Federal law is clear: federal funding of abortion is forbidden, except in very narrow circumstances. 
  2. The legislation would force millions of American families to pay more taxes if their health plan covers abortion care, jeopardizing abortion coverage in the private market. About 87 percent of insurance plans on the market currently offer abortion coverage.
  3. The bill jeopardizes the ability of private citizens to use their own dollars to purchase abortion coverage in the new health system, and levies harsh financial penalties on businesses and families who choose comprehensive insurance coverage.

Don't be fooled: The ramifications of deciding that the tax code is 'public funding' are huge and completely wrong.These anti-choice activists' plan is clear: to end insurance coverage for abortion and make it as difficult as possible for any woman -- under any circumstances -- to access abortion care. Doerflinger made this clear when he admitted that his organization does not support any exceptions for survivors of rape or incest, period.

Before the hearing, some of our pro-choice champions spoke out against the "Stupak on Steroids" bill at a press conference. Kudos to Reps. Judy Chu of California, John Conyers of Michigan, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Mike Quigley of Illinois, Maxine Waters of California, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C. for standing up for women's health and privacy.


The hearings continue at 1 p.m. today! Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and our affiliate network submitted written testimony to the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee in opposition to H.R.358, the Pitts bill, which among other things allows hospitals to deny women life-saving care.

NARAL Pro-Choice America will closely monitor how this hearing unfolds. 


 

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And they're off!

The anti-choice leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives is kicking off its extreme "Stupak on Steroids" agenda with a key committee hearing this afternoon. At 4 p.m. today the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution will hold a hearing on H.R.3, the "Stupak on Steroids" bill introduced by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey.

Among many egregious provisions, this bill would force millions of American families to pay more taxes if their health plan covers abortion care, jeopardizing abortion coverage in the private market. About 87 percent of insurance plans on the market currently offer abortion coverage.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, has submitted written testimony to the subcommittee detailing how the "Stupak on Steroids" bill would restrict women's ability to make personal, private medical decisions. We'll be monitoring this hearing closely, and provide more information here at Blog for Choice after it happens.

Today's hearing is just the first game in an anti-choice double-header. At 1 p.m. tomorrow, the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee will hold a hearing on H.R.358, which was introduced by Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania. This bill would allow hospitals to refuse to provide abortion care even when it's necessary to save a woman's life!.

Creating jobs and getting the economy back on track? Pffff--that's so 2010! 

Speaker John Boehner called attacking a woman's right to choose one of his "highest legislative priorities," and these hearings show us he means it.

Fortunately, pro-choice allies in the House and Senate are standing up to fight the dangerous "Stupak on Steroids" agenda. Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Barbara Boxer of California, Al Franken of Minnesota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, and Patty Murray of Washington held a press conference this morning calling on the anti-choice House leadership to focus on jobs and the economy--not attacking women's health and privacy.

And Rep. Lois Capps of California wrote an op-ed in Politico this morning calling on the House leadership to stop its attacks on choice. 


 

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The report featured NARAL Pro-Choice America's Nancy Keenan, and used our research to develop maps showing which states are most likely to see attacks on women's freedom and privacy. Nancy talked about how the changed political landscape will affect women's ability to make personal, private medical decisions.
 

The CBS Evening News is not the only leading media organization that is turning to NARAL Pro-Choice America for in-depth analysis. The New York Times, NPR, Politico, and the Associated Press have all cited our research in recent stories on anti-choice legislation in Congress and the states.

Politicians who campaigned last fall on promises of job creation, fiscal responsibility, and "limited government" have now turned around and made attacking a woman's right to choose a top priority. NARAL Pro-Choice America is working overtime getting the word out that these attacks mean more government interference in our personal, private lives, not less.
 

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Trend in the States: Biased-Counseling Laws

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Many state governments require doctors to lie to patients about the dangers of abortion.

Government-mandated lies--sounds like something out of a movie, right? Unfortunately, this is real life for women in 32 states.

That's because in these states, anti-choice politicians have passed biased-counseling laws. Never heard of this kind of law? Here's how it works. When a woman seeks abortion care, her health-care provider counsels her about her options, and answers important questions she may have. But in some states, politicians--not doctors--decide what information she receives by requiring that doctors read a script to their patients. In many cases, this "medical" information has an overwhelming anti-choice bias and is simply not true.

Many of these anti-choice laws force doctors to perpetuate the myth that abortion causes mental-health problems like depression and that it can even lead to suicide. Imagine a woman you care about being subjected to this political rhetoric. 

In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, Brenda Major looks more closely at this anti-choice strategy, and reiterates that there's no scientific evidence to back it up:

Rigorous U.S. scientific studies have not substantiated the claim that abortion, compared with its alternatives, causes an increased incidence of mental health problems. The same conclusion was reached in 2008 by an American Psychological Association task force, which I chaired, as well as by an independent team of scholars at Johns Hopkins University. As recently as September, Oregon State University researchers announced the results of a national study showing that teenagers who have an abortion are no more likely to become depressed or to have low self-esteem one year or five years later, compared with their peers who deliver.

Major has interesting explanations for some of the reasons the myth may persist. Her piece is worth the read.

What else do the biased-counseling laws dictate to doctors? Every state's law is a little different, but the goal of each is to dissuade women from accessing abortion care. Some require the medical professional to tell women that abortion causes breast cancer, another outright lie. In South Dakota, North Dakota and Missouri, women seeking information about pregnancy options must be told that life begins at conception, and that they are "destroying a separate and unique human being." Check out our website to learn more about anti-choice myths, and get the facts.

Just think of the women we know and care about. They could live in a state where they'd be subjected to this kind of anti-choice propaganda. These mandates put lawmakers in the room when they're talking to their doctor. Without a doubt, biased-counseling laws prove that politicians really do make crappy doctors

Does your state have an anti-choice biased-counseling or other anti-choice law? Check it out on our website, and let us know in the comments what you found.

Phew... What a week! Today marks the final night of Hanukkah and the one-week-away mark for Christmas... So NARAL Pro-Choice America sends greetings to all of our members who are marking these holidays and others.

Now, all of our eyes are on the Senate, where health reform continues to create news. I'll get to that in a moment, I promise. But, if you would like to read about choice-related news that doesn't include Sen. Ben Nelson's obstructionism, you're in the right place.

Make it Snowe, Make it Snowe, Make it Snowe: Here in the nation's capital, we're bracing for the so-called "snow of the season." But pro-choice Americans have a different reason to try and make it snow.

Look - I won't beat around the bush... we know that health-reform is in serious trouble. Anti-choice Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is refusing to vote to move the health-care bill forward - all because the bill doesn't include his outrageous Stupak-style ban on abortion coverage. We've all had enough of Sen. Nelson, so we've turned our attention to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

We need Sen. Snowe to step up and be the 60th vote for health-care reform. She's voted twice against a ban on abortion coverage. So, please sign our emergency petition asking Sen. Snow to vote to advance health-reform legislation that doesn't jeopardize women's abortion coverage in the new system. Our deadline is tomorrow at noon. Sign, and then share on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. (Yes, you. We know you tweet! It's ok, so do we.)

A Powerful Story from a Brave Maryland Woman: Last Friday's Baltimore Sun included a powerful story written by a woman who had an abortion after her doctors discovered serious health complications. It's incredibly poignant and a compelling addition to the health-care debate, and the ridiculousness of the so-called abortion rider. More than 500 of our Facebook friends read this story. Here's an excerpt that shows you why this struck a chord with so many people:

To say I am angered by those who are trying to prevent abortion coverage in the health care system is an understatement. I applaud our leaders, including Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, who are fighting to ensure women like me have access to the reproductive health care we need. Although the Senate defeated the Nelson-Hatch Amendment to the health care reform bill this week, the House's version of the bill still contains an amendment that could restrict women's access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market - even if they use their own money to purchase coverage.

I am writing today for all the women who are too fearful or made to feel ashamed to put a face on abortion. I'm writing today for all the women who, like me just five months ago, never imagined they would need the help of an abortion. And, I'm writing today on behalf of my child, who I know is in a much better place and no longer suffering.

I urge you to read this story in its entirety.

A New Pro-Choice Bill for the New Year: In the good-news department, we're proud to announce that Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME) introduced the Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act this week!

This bipartisan bill would guarantee that servicewomen stationed overseas have timely access to emergency contraception (EC). Sounds like a no-brainer, but servicewomen and providers alike have reported that they cannot obtain the medication when they need it. It's ridiculous.

"This important bill ensures that women who serve our country will have access to a safe, effective back-up form of birth control," Keenan said. "Sen. Franken's bill is based on the principle of fairness: Women in the military serving overseas should be able to access EC the same way women stateside do. This is especially important, given the increase in reports of sexual assaults in the military. It's a tragedy that women in uniform are denied such basic health care. We applaud Sens. Franken and Snowe and Rep. Michaud for protecting the reproductive health of our brave servicewomen."

A huge pro-choice thank you goes out to Sens. Franken and Snowe and Rep. Michaud.

The Greatest Gift of All - An End-of-the-Year Endorsement from NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC: Our political department has been busy tying up the end-of-the-year PAC endorsements from some awesome pro-choice candidates. This week, we announced the PAC endorsements of pro-choice Rep. Kendrick Meek in his bid for the open U.S. Senate seat in Florida, and three pro-choice House incumbents for the 2010 election cycle: Rep. John Adler in New Jersey's 3rd District, Rep. Tim Bishop in New York's 1st District, and Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy in Ohio's 15th District. Additionally, NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC endorsed Ann McLane Kuster for New Hampshire's 2nd District, where she is seeking to succeed Rep. Paul Hodes, a NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC-endorsed candidate for the U.S. Senate.

We got some press love from Rep. Meek - he tweeted his thanks, and it made The Hill's top tweets! - that really made us smile. SEE!? Everyone is in on the tweeting action! ;)

Putting Pen to Paper: It's official: President Obama signed legislation that includes a repeal of an onerous anti-choice policy in Washington, D.C. and eliminates funding for discredited Bush-era 'abstinence-only' programs. Nancy Keenan commented:

"I commend pro-choice leaders for putting sound science and teens' health before political ideology. This investment of funding signifies an important step toward ensuring teens receive the accurate information necessary to prevent unintended pregnancy and avoid sexually transmitted disease."

Thanks, Mr. President!

So that about sums up our week!

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NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts: Decline in Abortion Access

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This is a guest blog post from NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts that originally appeared on Blue Mass Group.

 

NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts recently released new research showing that the availability of abortion care in the Commonwealth has declined dramatically since the early part of the decade.

The study found that Massachusetts - like the rest of the nation- has witnessed an overall decrease in the number of health care providers offering abortion services. They are also increasingly concentrated in the Metro-Boston area - leaving women in the Southeast, Central, and Western regions with the least access to these medical services.

Massachusetts prides itself on being a leader in improving access to health care, but we're heading in the opposite direction when it comes to meeting the needs of women as they make personal, private decisions about their pregnancies. Without providers, the right to choose could become but a hollow promise.

Moreover, while Massachusetts is recognized for its role in training many future physicians, there are gaps in what medical residents learn here. A review of the six ob/gyn and five family practice residency programs found that nearly half (4 family practice, 1 ob/gyn) did not offer training in abortion care. Of the remaining six that do, all but one is located in Boston.

Clearly, even in Massachusetts, women face significant barriers to abortion care. Our elected officials have an opportunity this session to show their support for women's private medical decisions - and the courageous physicians who care for them - by repealing the last vestiges of our anti-choice history.

NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts is calling on legislators to pass An Act Updating the Public Health Laws. Sponsored by Sen. Chandler and Rep. Story, the bill would revoke three, archaic and unconstitutional statutes that could jeopardize women's health and well-being if they were ever enforced again, including a pre-Roe v. Wade ban on all abortions and a medically unjustified mandate that pregnancy terminations after twelve weeks take place in a hospital.

Learn more about the availability of abortion care in Massachusetts.

Emily Gardner is a Policy Associate for NARAL Pro-Choice America.

WicklundNARALStaff.JPG

(Dr. Wicklund, at the head of the table, addresses NARAL Pro-Choice America staff and guests.)

Last week, Dr. Susan Wicklund, a NARAL Pro-Choice America board member and an abortion provider based in Montana, spoke to NARAL Pro-Choice America staff and guests about her experience as a provider who assists Native American women with reproductive-health services.  Our Diversity Team organized the presentation as part of our ongoing diversity-related educational series.

Even though Montana is one of 17 states that allow state funds to pay for abortion care, Native-American women must clear additional hurdles, through HHS and others, that cause delays and, in some cases, put women's privacy at risk. Trying to maintain confidentiality while living on reservations or in communities with as few as 300 people is difficult, especially because of the stigma around abortion in many communities.

Dr. Wicklund also spoke of barriers to choice that many rural women face.  The sheer distance that women in places like South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming have to travel to receive abortion care is astounding, and sometimes prohibitive.  Dr. Wicklund used the example of Montana, which is hundreds of miles wide and contains only four health centers that provide abortion care.  Some women live as far as 400 miles away from one of these health centers.  For Native women living on reservations without cars, they have to rely on clinic volunteers to drive them to the nearest health center for abortion care.  The number of abortion providers across the country is diminishing - which disproportionately affects rural women.  Dr. Wicklund said that enacting pro-choice policies and electing pro-choice politicians is essential to protecting choice, but without providers, the right to choose is effectively meaningless. 

NARAL Pro-Choice America is very grateful to have such a board member like Dr. Wicklund, who provides much-needed health-care services to women.  Thank you, Dr. Wicklund, for taking the time to speak to us today, and for the extremely important work you do everyday.

 

(To learn more about Dr. Wicklund, please take a moment to read this story from The Charleston Gazette. You can purchase Dr. Wicklund's book, "This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor" at your local bookstore, or online here.)

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