Friday, October 30, 2009

Women's Rights and Health Reform:

During the national debate surrounding health insurance reform, NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota is working to ensure that women's reproductive rights are protected during the legislative battle. The NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation is proud to partner with the Raising Women's Voices coalition, to make sure women’s voices are heard in the health reform debate and women’s concerns are addressed by policymakers developing national and state reform plans.

For more information on the current state of women and health insurance, click here.
For more information on the increased costs women face, please click here.

Health Care & Abortion Rights

Check out the Minnesota Indepdent's latest article on what Minnesota's largest anti-abortion organization says about abortion and health care reform, and how little of it is based in fact.
To read the entire article, click here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Help guarantee Women’s reproductive health care IS standard health care.

Good news on the health care front, health care legislation headed to the Senate floor will include an option for government-run insurance! While this is great news in helping guarantee affordable health care for Americans we cannot rest with this major step. We absolutely must ensure that women’s health care is not left to chance or as an afterthought. A majority of Americans support the public option, let’s work together to guarantee women’s reproductive health care IS standard health care.
One simple way to do this is to keep a constant stream of letters to the editor going into local newspapers around the state, demonstrating that women are strongly supportive of health reform.
Since the introduction of our blog we’ve seen examples of how health care in the US has been less than fair to women. Examples like 8 states, plus the District of Columbia, don’t have laws that bar health insurance companies from using domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. Only 14 states have a requirement for health insurance companies to cover maternity care, and plans that fail to cover this are rising dramatically. (Along that note, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) argued against such coverage, stating “I don’t need maternity care, and so requiring that to be in my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.” To which, yet again, Sen. Debbie Stabenow showed the brains of the bunch by replying dryly, “I think your mom probably did.” Many insurers consider a cesarean section a pre-existing condition and will refuse to cover women who have had the procedure.Women’s health groups are pushing for provisions in the health care reform legislation to dramatically improve the health care and insurance coverage for women. These provisions include banning companies from charging women higher premiums and preventing many of the gender discriminatory provisions discussed above. And the list goes on.
To help ensure women’s reproductive health care IS standard health care we have some very simple volunteer actions you can take right from home that will go a long way in women across the nation getting equal access to healthcare at an equal and affordable price.
Simply contact us at to find out how a couple minutes of your time will ensure women’s reproductive health care IS standard health care.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 28 is National Comprehensive Sex Education Call-In Day!

This is a repost from Feministing. I seriously could not have taken this apart, reassembled it, then posted it without making it, A) exactly like this or B) a mess. If you have never been to Feministing you should check it out. It's an awesome feminist blog covering a wide range of issues, from abstinence only education (and its failings) to a Zombie Party benefiting the Texas Equal Access Fund.

And the repost:

October is Sex Ed Month of Action and organizers from Advocates for Youth, Catholics for Choice, Choice USA, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, Sierra Club, and Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom are joining forces to Congress it's time to finally get rid of failed abstinence-only programs and fund comprehensive sexuality education.
You can find information and tools for organizing a Call-In Day here. You can also sign on to a petition in support of the REAL Act which would authorize funding for comprehensive sexuality education.
This is a crucial moment for comprehensive sex ed. For the first time in a while we should have the support in the White House and Congress to de-fund abstinence-only programs and support real, accurate education about sex and sexuality. However, politicians in DC are continuing the same old fight despite overwhelming evidence that ab-only doesn't work. Electing people who say they agree with us is only the first and easiest step in bringing about political change. The real hard work comes after elections, when advocates need to hold officials accountable, push them to support our issues, and create a climate where that's the most expedient political move for them to make. The time is now: let's finally make federal funding for comprehensive sexuality education a reality!

A Democrat Is Leading the Anti-Choice Fringe‏

From NARAL Pro-Choice America:

I'll be honest—we all expected a fight from the usual anti-choice agitators on health-care reform. We expected it from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)1, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)2, the Family Research Council3, and the American Life League4.
But did you know that an anti-choice Democrat is carrying the right wing's water on this issue?
Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan is ready to jeopardize the entire health-care reform bill to stand between women and their doctors.
He's willing to undermine health-care reform—blocking the landmark bill from even coming to a vote—in order to impose an abortion ban on women in the reformed health system. His proposal would take away coverage from women who already have it.

Women can't afford to lose.
Watch our new video and then take action before Democrat Rep. Stupak gets his way:

Tell Congress to stand with women, not Rep. Stupak.
We've made it through five congressional committees, but if we can't beat Rep. Stupak's sneaky road block on the House floor, it will all be for nothing.
I can't overstate the consequences of what anti-choice Rep. Stupak is trying to pull. We must win this one. Women can't afford to lose.
Lawmakers in Congress need to know they must continue to reject any and all attempts to impose an outright ban on abortion services in a reformed health-care system—and they need to make sure that reform gets a fair vote.
Speak up now and tell your member of Congress to draw the line—NO more cloak-room politics, NO excuses for anti-woman diatribes, and NO new abortion ban.
I know we can count on you.
My best,Nancy KeenanPresident, NARAL Pro-Choice America
1 "Bachmann warns of abortions at school," The Hill, October 1, 2009, "Taxpayer-Funded Abortion Is Not Health-Care Reform," National Review Online, July 23, 2009, "FRC spot looks to tie public option to abortion funding," CNN, July 29, 2009 "Pro-Lifers Take Death Lightly," The Rachel Maddow Show, September 16, 2009,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Guttmacher Responds to Critics of Global Abortion Study

Susan Cohen of RH Reality Check responds to anti-choice criticisms of the Guttmacher Institute's worldwide study that found increased use of contraceptives contributed to a decline in unintended pregnancies and abortions.

Condom use up in fight against STI's

Latest figures show that the condom has caught up to the pill as the most popular contraceptive, most likely because it protects against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. STI prevention was the main concern for half of the condom users who participated in the survey.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sen. Franken: Equal Benefits for Equal Premiums

WASHINGTON, DC [10/15/09] – U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) spoke out for women’s rights during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing on how health care reform will improve the lives of American women.

I've attached a copy of the Senator Al Franken's Statement for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions “What Women want: Equal Benefits for Equal Premiums”
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. And thank you for holding today’s hearing on this crucial topic of how health reform will improve the lives of American women. I believe that women’s health is fundamental to our country’s health because women are small business owners and entrepreneurs; they are educators and doctors and CEOs. And as mothers and grandmothers, women are often also the health care decision makers for our families. It’s of utmost importance that national health reform legislation makes a real difference in the lives of American women, across their lifespan.
As others on the Committee have mentioned, women are among those most severely disadvantaged in our current health system. Right now, health insurance companies discriminate against women solely on the basis of their gender. And right now, it’s legal in many states for health insurance companies to charge women higher premiums—or deny coverage all together—if they have a history of domestic violence. So instead of providing the care and support that victims need in order to get out of abusive situations and stay healthy, health insurance companies punish them. This is simply immoral and unacceptable.
It’s also unbelievable to me that, in this day and age, we allow insurance companies to charge women more for health insurance simply because of the fact that they may become pregnant. I heard recently from a woman named Jessica in Minneapolis. Jessica’s 35 years old and works as an independent contractor.
When she started up her business, she knew that it was important to have health insurance. She wanted to do the responsible thing so she looked into buying an individual health plan. She found two main options, both of which had all of the same benefits except for one thing: maternity care. And the plan that included maternity services cost about twice as much and was unaffordable.
Right now, she doesn’t have any children but she thinks she might like to become pregnant sometime in the next few years. But as she was considering these individual health coverage options, Jessica also found out that to get the pregnancy coverage, she would also need to be enrolled in the maternity coverage for 18-months before becoming pregnant. Otherwise, her pregnancy would be considered a pre-existing condition and would not be covered. Health insurance companies consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition. And we permit this discrimination under current law.
Jessica is a young entrepreneur--exactly the type of smart and innovative businessperson that we want to encourage in Minnesota. But this ridiculous practice of charging women more for health insurance send the message that we don’t want women to receive prenatal services and high-quality maternity care. As if we don’t all benefit from healthy mothers and babies. The reality is that if my wife or your sister doesn’t have access to high-quality, affordable health care, that’s bad for all of us--bad for our economy, our country and our future.
Fortunately, when we pass national health reform, we will begin a new era in women’s health. For the first time ever, women will have access to comprehensive health benefits, including maternity care-- without having to pay more than their male counterparts. This is a huge step forward for justice in our country, and it’s one of the main reasons why we must pass health reform this year.
It’s also a top priority for me that health reform includes a crucial women’s health service--access to affordable family planning services. These services enable women and families to make informed decisions about when and how they become parents. Access to contraception is a fundamental right of adult Americans. And when we fulfill this right, we are able to accomplish a goal that we all share, on both sides of the aisle—to reduce the number of intended pregnancies. And so I believe that affordable family planning services must be part of the final implementation of health reform legislation. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues here to ensure that we make this a reality for all women in America.
Madam Chairwoman, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in today’s discussion and look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses.

Friday, October 16, 2009

New releases from the Guttmacher Institute:

Treating the complications that result from unsafe abortion costs Africa and Latin America $227–280 million each year, putting a considerable strain on struggling national health care systems. Globally, 15–25% of women who need hospital-based care for complications from unsafe abortion never receive it. If these women had access to the services they needed, the costs to health care systems would at least double, the authors point out. Read more here.

Increases in global contraceptive use have contributed to a decrease in the number of unintended pregnancies and, in turn, a decline in the number of abortions worldwide. The decline in worldwide abortion occurred alongside a global trend toward liberalizing abortion laws. Indeed, abortion occurs at roughly equal rates in regions where it is broadly legal and in regions where it is highly restricted. Read the full report here.

Sen Klobuchar stands up for women in health care reform

Senator Amy Klobuchar, along with several other women Senators, gave back-to-back speeches on the Senate floor on how health insurance reform will improve healthcare for women. Please take a moment and send a thank you to Sen. Klobuchar for STANDING UP for your health care rights!

And then take a moment to tell Senators Klobuchar and Franken to KEEP rejecting anti-choice amendments to the health care bill!

Health Care Reform Progresses...for now.

This Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee became the final Congressional panel to approve a bill that will reform our nation’s health care. One lone Republican, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, joined the majority in passing the $829 billion measure with a 14-9 vote.

This bill, which omits a public option, would “finance the biggest expansion of Medicaid in 40years and provide federal subsidies to 18 million people who otherwise couldn't afford coverage. It would raise taxes on high-cost plans, impose penalties on big employers that don't offer insurance, and slash spending on Medicare, the federal insurance plan for people older than 65.”

We scored a major pro-choice victory with this bill: the Committee narrowly rejected an anti-choice amendment to ban abortion coverage in the bill.

But we also suffered a major set-back: after all our work to get the Bush Administration’s failed abstinence-only programs de-funded, the Senate Finance Committee passed an amendment restoring funding for this program. Visit to take action on stopping funding for these destructive programs.

Quick healthcare update

Negotiations are underway to merge the two Senate health care reform bills.

Charmaine Yoest, head of Americans United for Life, has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which she incorrectly argues that the Capps Amendment would mean tax-payer funded abortion care.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Latest on the Health Care bill.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 14-9 yesterday to approve Sen. Baucus' health care bill. Now lawmakers are preparing for battles over health care on the floors of both chambers.

Republican Senators plan to reintroduce amendments restricting abortion access during floor debate.

The Seattle Times editorializes in support of a public option in the final health care reform package.

Really CBR? Graphic images don't reduce abortions.

The Center for Bioethical Reform's strategy of trying to gross out people to end abortion is A) ineffective and B) well, there is no B, its just ineffective. Graphic images of aborted fetuses do nothing to prevent abortions.
If the CBR really wanted to do something to end abortions, a major step would be to promote medically accurate sexual education in schools rather than driving their billboard truck around them. They would also be out promoting family planning and aiding in reducing the costs of birth control. Age appropriate sexual education, family planning, and affordable birth control go a long way in preventing unplanned pregnancies and its a proven fact that if a woman doesn't get pregnant she won't seek an abortion.

Rural Women in Minnesota Face Obstacles to Health Care

As the health care debate rages on and is making tiny steps forwards and large steps back, we need to look at those impacted by the final outcome. One vastly underrepresented group in this debate is the large number of people living in rural areas. Rural residents face economic hurdles such as unemployment and underemployment and lack of affordable insurance like their urban counterparts, but they also lack basic things like easily accessible clinics and hospitals. Whether you can afford to go or not, if you live in an urban center you can find and access a clinic or ER. But those living in rural areas may have to travel 25, 50, 100 miles to see a doctor they cant afford.
To find out more about these issues check out the article by Andy Birkey at RH Reality Check.
The Senate Finance Committee recently approved two conflicting amendments to the health care reform bill—one creating a responsible sex ed program for the states—and the other extending the failed Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program. The health care reform bill just passed out of committee and now goes to conference committee.
We need to ensure Congress only funds a comprehensive approach to sex ed and does not fund ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that leave young people without the information they need to make safe and healthy choices. TAKE ACTION TODAY!!
The Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program expired on June 30 and, at that time, had been refused by nearly half of the states both because of the restrictive nature of the program and the fact that overwhelming evidence has proven these programs to be ineffective and a waste of taxpayer dollars.
To learn more, visit The Coalition for Responsible Sex Ed is a partner in the No More Money Campaign.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Anti-choice abortion ban narrowly defeated.

Today marked a critical victory in the health-care debate—but we need your help right now to make sure it sticks.
The Senate Finance Committee narrowly rejected an anti-choice attempt to ban abortion coverage in the new health-care system.
But we are not even close to the finish line.
As the debate moves forward, Senators need to know they must continue to reject any and all attempts to take away abortion coverage from women who already have it.
Help us send as many letters as possible to the Senate in the next 24 hours, urging senators to reject ALL future anti-choice attacks on the health-care bill!
We know that our opponents aren't going to give up as the bill moves to a full congressional vote.
In fact, the victory over the abortion ban is bittersweet: during debate on the bill, the Senate Finance Committee did adopt an amendment restoring funding for Bush's failed "abstinence-only" program.
We must make sure the Senate does not make any more concessions to the anti-choice pressure they're feeling now. Write your lawmakers today!

HPV Vaccinations slowly progressing.

The CDC announced that 37% of U.S. teenaged girls have been vaccinated against HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer, although vaccination rates vary widely by state:

Economics and childbirth

A survey commissioned by the Guttmacher Institute has found that the recession has significantly affected some women's decisions on child bearing and many stated that having a child right now is no longer economically feasible for them:

Sec. of State Hillary Rodham Clinton—Global Reproductive Rights Advocate

I cannot stop raving about how great it is to finally have a Secretary of State who is standing up for women not only within the United States, but for women across the globe.

Michelle Goldberg’s article in the American Prospect delves into Sec. Clinton’s commitment to global reproductive rights as the keystone to advancing women’s rights.

"Too many women are denied even the opportunity to know about how to plan and space their families," Sec. Clinton said last March, while accepting the Margaret Sanger award from Planned Parenthood. "And the derivative inequities that result from all of that are evident in the fact that women and girls are still the majority of the world's poor, unschooled, unhealthy, and underfed. This is and has been for many years a matter of personal and professional importance to me, and I want to assure you that reproductive rights and the umbrella issue of women's rights and empowerment will be a key to the foreign policy of this administration."

And at her confirmation hearing, she firmly stated her commitment to women’s issues. "The United States must be an unequivocal and unwavering voice in support of women's rights in every country on every continent."

But Sec. Clinton has a long road ahead of her. Women in many countries face enormous barriers to being treated equally to men on a basic level. Just last week, a Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein was fined $200 for wearing pants in public. And in Malaysia, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno is to be publicly caned at the end of the month for drinking beer in public. Earlier this year, Afghan president Hamid Karzai approved sharia law, which legalizes marital rape and allows men to hold women captive within their homes.

And as far as international law goes, last year the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1820, which reaffirmed that mass rape is a war crime. Yet there has never been a trial at the U.N. Criminal Courts for committing rape or allowing rape as an incident of war.

But, most importantly, there is CEDAW. CEDAW, or the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, is an international treaty that includes the right to education, employment, property ownership, family planning, and freedom from gender-based violence. CEDAW was adopted by the United Nations on December 18, 1979 and has since been ratified by 184 countries-- over ninety percent of the members of the United Nations. With one glaring exception: the United States has not ratified it, and is the only industrialized nation to not have done so.

As we fight for reproductive rights across the world, we finally have an ally in Washington. TAKE ACTION TODAY and contact Sen. Klobuchar (202-224-3244) and Sen. Franken (202-224-5641) and tell them to support CEDAW.

Realistically speaking, how involved are parents?

An interesting study out of Austin, TX indicates that parents are overestimating their roles in their teenage children’s sex education. More than 40% of all parents surveyed claimed sex is regularly discussed at home, while only 7% of all teens 14 to 18 years old said it is. Friends are the primary source of sexual information, 27% of teens said.

Crisis Pregnancy Center Report Reveals Accidental Truths

Wendy Norris of RH Reality Check exposes that up to $200 million is being spent on reproductive health care provided by amateurs at faith-based crisis pregnancy centers each year:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Daley to Sign Abortion "Bubble" Ordinance

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has said he will sign an ordinance to create a "buffer" to keep anti-choice protesters from getting too close to people entering and exiting medical facilities. It is very sad that we need laws like this to protect women as they seek a legal medical procedure but it is fortunate that we do have politicians willing to stand up and defened a woman's right ot choose and not be harassed in the process. Granted this law prevents anti-choice protestors form getting within 8 feet of a woman using a clinic but does nothing to protect them from graphic images being displayed or the verbal harassment they typically recieve as they seek an abortion.

Anti-Choice Politicians willing to deny health care reform over abortion.

It’s beyond clear that the anti-choice movement will stop at nothing to take away women's access to abortion care. Anti-choice members like Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) have publicly stated that they are willing to derail the entire health-reform effort if it doesn't ban abortion. If these people have their way, women could lose abortion coverage they already have!

Sexual Orientation added to hate crimes laws!

The House passed a bill that expands federal violent hate crime laws to include sexual orientation. This will expand the definition of violent federal hate crimes to cover those committed because of a victim's sexual orientation, a step that would extend new protection to lesbian, gay and transgender people.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Protecting Reproductive Rights at Delivery

Jill Alliman of RH Reality Check takes a look at the often forgotten reproductive rights, the rights surrounding childbirth.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Protesting birth control?

Hunter Stuart of RH Reality Check overviews the contradictions within the anti-choice campaign 40 Days for Life that is calling even birth control a form of murder:

Rep. Bachman's strange version of reality.

The drama never ends for 6th District Rep. Michelle Bachmann. Last week, she took the House floor to preach about the evils of a provision in the House health care reform bill, which authorizes non-profit entities to operate health clinics in schools. Her prediction? That it would lead to Planned Parenthood establishing “sex clinics” at school in which 13 year old girls would be whisked away for abortions on the bus, returning home later without parents being the wiser. Huh?

Why do we need health care reform?...

8 states, plus the District of Columbia, don’t have laws that bar health insurance companies from using domestic violence as a pre-existing condition.
Only 14 states have a requirement for health insurance companies to cover maternity care, and plans that fail to cover this are rising dramatically. (Along that note, last week Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) argued against such coverage, stating “I don’t need maternity care, and so requiring that to be in my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.” To which, yet again, Sen. Debbie Stabenow showed the brains of the bunch by replying dryly, “I think your mom probably did.
Many insurers consider a cesarean section a pre-existing condition and will refuse to cover women who have had the procedure.
Women’s health groups are pushing for provisions in the health care reform legislation to dramatically improve the health care and insurance coverage for women. These provisions include banning companies from charging women higher premiums and preventing many of the gender discriminatory provisions discussed above.
And the list goes on.

The Healthcare Debate Rages On...and on...

Well, we still do not have healthcare reform. And we have all heard the protesters, yelling about the government deciding their healthcare. “Keep government out!” they are hollering.
Except....for abortion. Apparently, when people talk about keeping government out of their lives, they do not mean to include a woman’s uterus.
We aren’t just talking about keeping a public option from “paying for abortions.” The Baucus Health Care Bill already did that—it maintained the current restrictions on funding the medical procedure. But last week, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced an amendment that would go much further; he introduced an amendment that would require women who purchase comprehensive private insurance packages — that include abortion services —to pay for the entire cost of the package (even if they qualify for subsidies) and obtain a separate rider for abortion coverage.
Thankfully, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) stood up for women’s rights. Responding to the proposed amendment, Sen. Stabenow said, “I find it offensive . . . that any woman, any family purchasing through the exchange, if they did not receive any tax credit, would be prohibited from having the full range of health care options that they may need covered. . . This is an unprecedented restriction on people who paid for their own health care insurance.”
Thankfully, the amendment was defeated by a vote of 10-13.
And those who oppose health care reform are using abortion as their wolf cry. And proponents of health care reform are buckling on the issue. For those who oppose government intrusion, this issue should be simple: keep restrictions on abortion coverage out of the health care bill.
Contact Senators Amy Klobuchar (202-224-3244) and Al Franken (202-224-5641) NOW and tell them you want health care reform NOW. Tell them you EXPECT them to push for your right to make reproductive health decisions!