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Results tagged “birthcontrol” 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:

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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!

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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.

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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.

Race to Watch: Colorado Senate

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David de la Fuente is the Political Assistant at NARAL Pro-Choice America.

This is the latest edition of our blog series "Races to Watch." Through this series, we'll highlight competitive races across the country featuring pro-choice and anti-choice candidates. Please share our posts with pro-choice friends who will support our candidates. When we know the stakes and we vote together, we change the game.


MarkUdall-Senate_Portrait_small.jpgSenator Mark Udall (D-CO) is many things. He is an avid mountaineer. He's a craft beer enthusiast (Colorado is the largest beer producing state in the country after all). He is a husband and volleyball dad. This all makes Sen. Udall a really likeable guy. But it's what he does everyday for Colorado women and families that makes him a cherished ally and leader who deserves our support. Sen. Udall believes that women and families should have the resources, education, and support to make the best decisions and thrive at all points in our reproductive lifetimes.

NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC has proudly endorsed Sen. Udall because of his long history of fighting for women's reproductive health. His leadership is even more important now in the post Hobby Lobby world. Just days after the Supreme Court's decision, he worked with fellow senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to introduce the "Not My Boss's Business" Act to prevent employers' religious beliefs from trumping the religious liberty and reproductive rights of their employees. Udall stated, "My common-sense proposal will keep women's private health decisions out of corporate board rooms, because your boss shouldn't be able to dictate what is best for you and your family." Unfortunately, Republican leaders blocked the bill. But we know that this set-back won't stop Sen. Udall from continuing to push for women's access to birth control.

Sen. Udall is running for reelection this November and faces stiff opposition from anti-choice Congressman Cory Gardner (R-CO). Gardner originally said he wasn't going to run, which allowed other less prominent Republicans to run - but then changed his mind 9 months later, forcing all others to drop out. It seems changing his mind about things and leaving people without options is a specialty of Gardner's.

Gardner has also built a reputation as an anti-choice congressman. In 2008 and 2010, Gardner actively supported "personhood" ballot initiatives in Colorado when he was running for office. But since announcing his statewide campaign, Gardner has changed his mind again and opposes the latest initiative, Colorado Amendment 67, which could ban all abortion in cases of rape and incest, as well as most common forms of birth control.

Gardner claims he "opposes" Amendment 67 because of newfound concerns that it would restrict women's access to birth control. But come on. His only concern is about getting women to vote for him! This is the same man who supported the Hobby Lobby decision and is still a cosponsor of a federal "personhood" bill that would ban abortion in cases of rape or incest as well as most common forms of birth control. Guess he hasn't changed his mind on that one yet.

We can't trust Cory Gardner to stick to his word, but you can count on him to stick it to Colorado women and families.

The decision couldn't be clearer, which is why NARAL Pro-Choice America is fully supporting Sen. Mark Udall this November. Coloradans need someone in the Senate who will always protect women's reproductive health care -- not someone who tries to win pro-choice votes in Colorado while pushing anti-choice legislation in Washington, D.C.

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

Female Voters Say "No" to Hobby Lobby Logic

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NMBBA Sign.jpgIt's been five weeks since the Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby that bosses could deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control - and the blow back is picking up speed across the country.

Female voters have had enough of the attacks on our basic health care. A majority said they won't vote for candidates who side with Hobby Lobby, with a full 71 percent saying that politicians who are rolling back access to birth control have their priorities all wrong. Instead of taking away contraceptive coverage, lawmakers should work to pass legislation to improve access to women's health care.

Pro-choice legislators are leading the charge to fix the Hobby Lobby decision. They've introduced bills in New York, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia to keep bosses from taking away birth control coverage, and even more pro-choice bills are in the works.

But that's not all. Pro-choice members of Congress are also making it a top priority to fix the Hobby Lobby decision. They've introduced the "Not My Boss's Business" Act in both the U.S. Senate and House, and Majority Leader Reid fast-tracked it to try to undo the damage. We came just two votes short. Two votes! We'd have won in the Senate if it weren't for Mitch McConnell and his cronies who think that women should have to pay twice for their birth control.

Members of Congress are back to their states now for the congressional August recess, and we plan to hold politicians who sided with Hobby Lobby accountable for blocking the "Not My Boss's Business" Act, but we need your help!

Want to help us ask them why they keep attacking health care that only women need? Sign up to join the 7 in 10 pro-choice community.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down an alarming and disappointing decision when it ruled that bosses at Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts store, can deny insurance coverage for birth control to their employees.

Seriously, it's beyond messed up. Why are we still debating birth control when 99 percent of women will use some form of it in their lifetime? In her 35-page dissent, even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg called the ruling "a decision of startling breadth" and said, "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."

Bosses have no place intruding on their employees' private medical decisions. Imagine if your boss suddenly wanted to deny you essential health care like vaccines or blood transfusions based on their personal beliefs. Offensive much? And the vast majority of Americans agree: more than 70 percent of Americans support insurance coverage for birth control.

We've been working to expose the bosses and politicians who want control over our health-care decisions and lives -- including their hypocrisy. Hobby Lobby's 401(k) plan actually had investments in birth-control manufacturers, and the company has given no sign that it will stop covering vasectomies. Talk about a double standard.

We rallied at the Supreme Court yesterday for birth-control coverage and keeping bosses out of our bedrooms.

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Our president, Ilyse Hogue, appeared on MSNBC's "Now with Alex Wagner" to discuss this horrible ruling for women, she said:

"Make no mistake, what the five male justices did today was to actually say that discrimination against women's health care is not discrimination at all. They took an entire class of Americans, more than half, and said that it is okay for your bosses to know better than you do about what we need to take care of our bodies and ourselves and that is a very dangerous precedent with very powerful forces behind it."

Watch the video below:

What's next for women's access to birth control? We're looking to Congress to fix this decision. We'll be working with our allies to eliminate all discrimination in health-care coverage. Second, voters must make their voices heard come November. We're going to make sure voters know which candidates will stand with women's health over corporate bosses.

If you're as outraged as we are that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of discrimination against women, share our graphic on Facebook and make sure your friends know about this sexist attack on women's health:

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Race to Watch: Maine's 2nd Congressional District

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Erika West is the Political Director at NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Right now, we're seeing anti-choice politicians launch some of the worst attacks on our reproductive freedom, including going after women's access to birth control, taking away insurance coverage of abortion and passing regulations that are closing clinics all over the country. If we're going to protect and even expand reproductive freedom, we have to win at the ballot box in November.

That's why we're posting a new blog series called "Races to Watch." We'll highlight competitive races across the country featuring pro-choice and anti-choice candidates. Please check back often for the latest on these key races, and share our posts with pro-choice friends who will support our candidates. When we know the stakes and we vote together, we change the game.


ME_EmilyCain_crop.jpgA couple of weeks ago, we scored a victory for reproductive freedom when NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC-endorsed candidate Emily Cain won in the Democratic primary in Maine's 2nd congressional district. She soundly defeated her anti-choice opponent Troy Jackson with 72 percent of the vote.

Cain's strong pro-choice values make her best positioned to advocate for Maine women and families in Washington and she has a track record that shows we can count on her to get the job done. She's the youngest woman to ever serve as Maine's House Minority Leader and knows the importance of breaking down barriers. Since she was elected to the State House in 2005, Cain has been dedicated to fighting to protect access to reproductive-health care. One of her biggest fights was to preserve funding for women's health care services, including cancer screenings, birth control and STI testing at Planned Parenthood, which benefit 10,000 Maine residents each year.

Cain is no stranger to working to stop anti-choice attacks - which is experience she is going to need when she goes to Washington. In 2011, she spoke out against a bill that would have created an unnecessary waiting period on women seeking abortion services. And at a town hall, Cain called for Maine politicians to stop interfering in reproductive health decisions and said politicians "should not hinder a woman's ability to make important choices about her body and her health."

While we are excited that she won her primary, she now faces anti-choice Bruce Poliquin in November. Poliquin has already been endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee and was endorsed by both the anti-choice Christian Conservation League of Maine and Concerned Women for America in 2012 when he ran for the Senate. Poliquin stated that he believes that, "at conception, a life has begun, and that is a life that should be protected." His anti-choice position was a key factor in his primary win against mixed-choice Kevin Raye. Numerous church leaders rallied their congregations in support of Poliquin and his abortion stance during the primary.

Poliquin's position is clearly out of touch with the values held by the constituents of Maine's 2nd congressional district.

Cain and Poliquin are vying for the open seat created when pro-choice Rep. Michael Michaud announced his run for governor this year. We're lucky to have another pro-choice leader on the ballot to fill his shoes and we need every pro-choice voter engaged in order to win in November. Today, our pro-choice allies in the U.S. House are outnumbered - and with Boehner at the helm, the House has moved bill after bill aimed at making it impossible for women to get the reproductive-health care they need. The people of Maine's 2nd district deserve a pro-choice leader who shares their values and Emily Cain has proven that she can deliver. Now, let's deliver the pro-choice vote in November for Cain and secure another win for reproductive freedom!

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

Chalkboard_small.jpgThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a new report out on teen pregnancy, and called out how ineffective "abstinence-only" programs really are:

"Only four out of 10 [teenagers] said they had been given information both on how to say no to sex and about birth control. And 83 percent of the boys and girls who had sex said they had not received any sex education before their first time."

Woah. That's just scary. No wonder the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed nation.

This is what the anti-choice movement is all about: keeping people from getting the facts and from making the health-care decisions that are right for them. That means a lot of teens aren't learning what they need to know to stay healthy.

Take a look at four ways the anti-choice movement's agenda is playing out across the country:

  1. "Abstinence-only" programs: Not only has the anti-choice movement made it their agenda to withhold information from young people across the country, "abstinence-only" programs actually promote misinformation and use shaming tactics to block teens from accessing birth control or their full range of reproductive options. Only 28 states require sex education that teaches about birth control.
  2. In one Mississippi classroom, students of an "abstinence-only" program were made to pass around an unwrapped piece of chocolate to show that sexual activity is dirty and shameful. A school district in Texas compared sexually active teens to "chewed up gum" that should be thrown away. Another program taught students that if they have sex they're like a "rose without petals." Education is supposed to encourage and inspire students, not shame them and make them feel worthless. The problem is these programs just don't work. Teens will still have sex, but they have no idea of the risks or consequences.

  3. Anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs): The anti-choice movement's agenda of denying information and using shame isn't only happening in schools. Our opponents have created "crisis pregnancy centers" to stop women from choosing abortion. These fake clinics are meant to look like abortion providers to lure women facing an unintended pregnancy through their doors, but then they tell women lies like "abortion causes breast cancer," "Condoms are porous," and "abortions will ruin your chance of having children in the future."
  4. Attacks on contraceptive coverage: For the anti-choice movement, withholding information isn't extreme enough. They are also working to let bosses who oppose birth control refuse to cover it for their employees and two of their cases have gone all the way to the Supreme Court. One in three women struggles to afford birth control, so if these bosses win it's going to mean that a lot of women could lose access altogether.
  5. Laws that close abortion clinics: Anti-choice politicians in states like Texas close reproductive-health clinics, including ones that provide abortion. We're seeing this happen in Ohio where new restrictions are forcing clinics out of business because they cannot comply quickly enough with unnecessary transfer agreements with local hospitals. These Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws have one goal: shut down clinics where women can get safe and legal abortion care. And, sadly, in states that are dominated by anti-choice politicians, these laws are doing just that.
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Do You Know Where the Candidates Stand on Choice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Pro-Choice State Lawmakers to Watch in 2014

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

1) Texas gubernatorial candidate and State Sen. Wendy Davis

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

2) Texas State Sen. Leticia van de Putte

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

3) Oklahoma State Rep. Doug Cox

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

4) North Carolina State Rep. Alma Adams

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

5) California State Assemblywoman Toni Atkins

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

6) Michigan State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer

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

7) Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner

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

"Put on your big girl panties."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Supreme Court announced that it would take up two cases concerning the no-cost birth-control policy that's part of the Affordable Care Act. We can all agree that medical decisions belong between you and your doctor, not your boss.

Yet, the bosses in these cases and dozens more have filed suits arguing that it's their right to deny their employees birth-control coverage. Totally ridiculous, right?

Check out our Buzzfeed list of seven bosses you would never want in charge of your reproductive-health care and access to birth control.

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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 StopKen.com 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 PilotOnline.com 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, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

House Republicans have rightly been taking a lot of heat in polls and the media lately for the government shutdown.

What you might not have heard is that these same anti-choice leaders tried to use the budget negotiations to give bosses authority to deny their female employees birth control coverage. Even when we were like 48 hours away from defaulting on our nation's debt and on the brink of a financial collapse, House Republicans had birth control on their brains.

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Read more about these ridiculous antics on NARAL Pro-Choice America's Buzzfeed Community page.

Chuck Todd: A Few Questions for Ken Cuccinelli

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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, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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Check out our post that was too "controversial" for Buzzfeed:

The race for governor is heating up in Virginia, which is why it's so important for pro-choice voters to know the facts.

Anti-choice Ken Cuccinelli claims that government legislation shouldn't touch birth control and that he has "never supported legislation that invades people's choices about contraception." We're calling blatant LIE on this one. Cuccinelli's extreme anti-choice record of restricting women's access to reproductive-health care and birth control truly speaks for itself.

1. Cuccinelli co-sponsored "personhood" legislation that would ban abortion in almost all cases, and could outlaw common forms of birth control - including the pill.

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Because sponsoring legislation to ban birth control is the best way to show that you have no agenda...to ban birth control.

2. Cuccinelli doesn't even know what contraception is. He's called birth control and emergency contraception "abortion methods."

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Newsflash Ken: The medical community disagrees with you there.

3. Ken is a big fan of anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) that lie to women about their reproductive options.

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CPC employees have been caught on tape telling women that birth control causes cancer and saying that birth control is "enslavement."

4. He also cosponsored legislation that would make it more difficult for young women to get birth control and force teens to notify their parents if they want information about STI prevention and emergency contraception.

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5. Let's get real: Ken just doesn't want you to get birth control, and CERTAINLY not without a co-pay.

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Cuccinelli has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the birth control benefit under the Affordable Care Act, which provides birth control coverage to countless women who may otherwise not be able to afford it.

Recap: Ken is "not going to touch contraception as governor"? Yeah right, he's not fooling anybody.

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What other lies will Ken tell before pro-choice voters head to the polls in November and show him that his anti-choice agenda won't fly with women in Virginia?

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

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Just over one year ago, Obamacare made contraceptive services available to women at no out-of-pocket cost, thanks in large part to your hard work. Under the new health-care law, prescription birth control, mammograms, STI counseling and treatment, and other services are now available without a co-pay. This is huge. Because over half of women 18-34 have struggled to afford prescription birth control, ensuring access to affordable birth control marks the greatest advancement for women's health in a generation. And already it's helped more than 27 million women. But even as we celebrate the benefit's first anniversary, many women are still footing the bill for their birth control. And they want to know why.

If this has happened to you, you're not alone. Since the birth-control policy first went into effect on August 1, 2012, women's health advocates have heard similar stories--those of women facing co-pays at the pharmacy counter and insurance companies falling short of delivering on the law's full promise. 

Here's what we know and what you can do if this is happening to you:


First, remember that Obamacare requires that all "new" health plans must comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement. "New" means plans that were created or purchased after Obamacare was enacted. Old plans--called "grandfathered" plans--don't have to comply. But keep in mind that "grandfathered" plans won't be grandfathered forever--if they change their plans in a substantial way, they lose that status. In fact, we expect 90% of grandfathered plans to lose their status in the next year or so, at which point they will be required to comply and provide birth control without a co-pay. So if your plan is grandfathered, that might be the reason you're still being charged a co-pay. Ask your benefits administrator if your health plan is grandfathered.

But if you're being charged a co-pay, it could also be because your insurance company believes that Obamacare allows it to pick and choose the contraceptives they cover cost-free. They have some wiggle room, to be sure. But even so, the birth-control policy is stronger than some companies think it is. Here's the skinny.

Some insurance companies are interpreting a section of the law that lets them control costs to also allow them to charge a co-pay for some forms of birth control but not others. This is why some women are being told that they can't get the Nuva Ring without co-pay, or that only generics are covered without a co-pay. Our allies raised concerns about this, and here's what the government said in reply:

  • Your insurance company can charge you a co-pay for a name-brand contraceptive, but only if there's also a generic version available. If there isn't a generic version, they have to cover the name-brand drug without a co-pay.
  • And if your doctor determines that the name-brand drug is "medically appropriate" for you, then your insurance company must provide a waiver process that will let you get your name-brand birth control without a co-pay (see question 14 of the FAQs: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq-aca12.html). (Keep in mind, this is different than the typical appeal consumers file when they're denied coverage for a service.)

If you're one of the women experiencing problems here, head over to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) website--they've built a toolkit to help you fight for the coverage Obamacare says you should have. Its got answers to the questions women are asking, a fantastic script to use when you call your insurance company for answers, and sample letters to send your insurance company if they charge a co-pay for your specific type of birth control.

You can also call NWLC at 1-866-PILL4US. They may have already received complaints like yours and can more quickly point you to a solution.

The bottom line is, don't give up! It may take some work, but we fought too hard for birth-control coverage to give up easily! Not only that, but the work you do to educate your insurance company could make all the difference in the world for other women in your plan who may be missing out on the birth-control benefit.

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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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On Having Pride and Working for Reproductive Rights

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

June is National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* (LGBT) pride month and, while the connection between reproductive rights and LGBT equality activism may not be immediately obvious, I've always known that the two are inextricably linked.

At their core, both issues are about privacy. A woman's right to reproductive-health care entitles her to decide whether, when, and with whom to have a family without politicians' interference. Similarly, the right to love who you want and be who you are entitles people to build a family in a way that will bring them the most joy, fulfillment, and freedom.

I was particularly struck by the connections between LGBT* and reproductive rights activism a few weeks ago when the organization Strong Families launched their Mama's Day campaign. This beautiful celebration of diverse families reminded me that the right to choose means so much more than just the availability of abortion.

In a time when we hear about legislative attacks on birth control and abortion on every single news outlet, coalition building between reproductive rights activists and LGBT* activists is more important than ever. Just as we encourage lawmakers to trust women to make their own health-care choices, we must trust each other - partners in the struggle for full equality - to champion each others' causes and be allies in the fight for justice.

At NARAL Pro-Choice America, we fight to protect and expand the rights of women across the country. This proactive approach to advancing reproductive rights is one that necessitates and encourages inclusion of all people. That's why the staff at NARAL Pro-Choice America knew it was important to support federal marriage equality, as we have since 2004.

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As an LGBT-identified individual working in the reproductive rights/reproductive justice movement, I owe a great debt of gratitude to those who create space in this movement for people of all identities. Leaders like Kierra Johnson of Choice USA and Miriam Perez inspire me daily with their devotion to bridging the perceived gap between issues.

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Happy Anniversary to Legal Birth Control!

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Today is the 48th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court case that first identified the constitutional right to privacy and defeated a law that barred the use of birth control.

This ruling was monumental because it struck down a barrier that blocked women from controlling their futures. It gave them the power to choose whether and when to start and family.

Access to birth control is essential for millions of women and their families. Not only does birth control prevent unplanned pregnancy, it allows women to take better care of themselves and their families, support themselves financially, and advance their educational and career goals.

Studies show that using birth control is highly effective in reducing unintended pregnancies, and therefore the need for abortion care. Improving access to birth control is truly a win for everyone.

That's why we're so excited about the no-cost birth control policy under Obamacare, and the recent ruling that made some emergency contraception available over the counter without age restrictions for all women!

Want to show your support for this monumental ruling for women and their families? Head over to Facebook and share our graphic:

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Last night, pro-choice U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) debated anti-choice opponent Gabriel Gomez in the lead up to the general election on June 25.

Voters learned three critical new facts about Gabriel Gomez's anti-choice position:

  1. Gomez would vote for anti-choice Supreme Court nominees that could set the wheels in motion for the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
  2. Gomez's campaign dismissed women's contraceptive coverage as just "inside baseball." That's a quaint way off laughing off one of the most important and hotly-debated women's issue of the last year.
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  4. Gomez supports forced-waiting periods for women getting abortion care, saying "I don't think that's too much to ask." Tell that to women who have to drive hundreds or even thousands of miles to the nearest abortion provider, as well as pay for child care, a hotel room, and transportation costs.

Gomez said repeatedly that he wouldn't change laws around abortion. Doesn't he realize that U.S. senators vote on abortion-related issues all the time?

Last night's debate showed that Gabriel Gomez is completely out of touch with the very people he hopes to represent and cannot be trusted to protect their best interests. It's clear that Gomez would not work to protect and expand women's reproductive freedom. Instead, he could likely add unnecessary restrictions to burden women seeking reproductive-health services and abortion care.

NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC-endorsed Rep. Markey, on the other hand, trusts Massachusetts women and has a pro-choice record that spans more than three decades. That's why Rep. Markey is the only candidate women and their families in Massachusetts can trust to protect their freedom and privacy in the most personal of circumstances - not anti-choice politicians like Gabriel Gomez.

If you have friends in Massachusetts, make sure they know how dangerous Gabriel Gomez would be for women's reproductive freedom. When they head to the polls, they'll know who to vote into the Senate on June 25 - pro-choice Rep. Ed Markey.

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

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