May 22, 2013
Four Different Appeals Courts Will Consider Federal Contraceptive Coverage Mandate
Politico: Courts to hear birth control mandate lawsuits, by Kathryn Smith & Jennifer Haberkorn:
Obamacare’s birth control mandate will go before four different appeals courts over the next three weeks as private businesses that object to the policy on religious liberty grounds bring a barrage of lawsuits that opponents hope to get before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this fall.
On Wednesday, two for-profit companies will ask the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike the requirement that they provide employees with insurance coverage that includes birth control and other drugs that they say can cause abortion. Three other companies will present oral arguments in different appeals courts by early June. . . .
May 10, 2013
Federal Judge Rejects as "Frivolous" Government's Request to Delay Order on "Morning After Pill"
Bloomberg: 'Morning-After' Pill Judge Won't Delay Ruling for Appeal, by Christie Smythe:
A federal judge rejected as “frivolous” a government request to delay the effect of his order giving girls of all ages access to the so-called morning after-pill.
U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman in Brooklyn, New York, refused today to put the ruling on hold while the government appeals his decision that the contraceptive doesn’t require a prescription. He gave officials until May 13 to seek a delay from the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. . . .
May 09, 2013
Federal Judge Admonishes Obama Administration for Its Insistence on Limiting Access to Emergency Contraceptive Pill
The New York Times - The Caucus blog: Judge Criticizes Obama Administration as It Appeals Contraception Decision, by Michael D. Shear:
A federal judge on Tuesday angrily accused the Obama administration of hurting poor and minority women by seeking to restrict their access to morning-after contraceptive pills. . . .
Judge Korman, of United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, said he would decide this week whether to freeze implementation of his order while the appeal proceeds. But for the second time in a month, he used his perch on the bench to lecture the Food and Drug Administration and President Obama for their efforts to restrict access to the drug by very young women. . . .
May 02, 2013
U.S. Will Appeal Federal Court Ruling Invalidating Age Limits on Emergency Contraceptive Pill
The New York Times: U.S. to Defend Age Limits on Morning-After Pill Sales, by Pam Belluck & Michael D. Shear:
The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge’s order to make the most common morning-after contraceptive available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages.
The announcement came a day after the Food and Drug Administration said that one well-known morning-after pill, Plan B One-Step, would be made available without a prescription for girls as young as 15 — instead of only to girls ages 17 and over, as has been the case. . . .
The Los Angeles Times: Government will appeal Plan B emergency birth control ruling, by Monte Morin:
The U.S. attorney's office announced late Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge's decision to make Plan B One-Step and related emergency birth control pills available to consumers of all ages without a prescription. . . .
May 01, 2013
FDA Announces It Will Make Plan B Available OTC to Women 15 and Older
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: FDA approves 'morning-after pill' for women 15 and up, by Sam Baker:
The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that the contraceptive known as Plan B should be available without a prescription for all women 15 and older.
The move is sure to stir controversy among social conservatives, some of whom view Plan B as a form of abortion. Unlike other forms of birth control, Plan B is intended for use after sex, rather than before. . . .
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: FDA pressed to go further on Plan B, by Sam Baker:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is under pressure from political activists — and some doctors — to remove all age restrictions on the over-the-counter sale of Plan B.
The FDA made waves Tuesday by allowing the sale of Plan B without a prescription to women 15 and older. Its previous policy had restricted the drug to patients 17 and older.
Women's-health advocates said the move from 17 to 15 was a good first step, but doesn't go far enough. . . .
RH Reality Check: Administration Again Fails on Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception, by Jodi Jacobson:
Today, in a proposal that can best be described as adding insult to injury, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved making emergency contraception (EC) available over-the-counter for teens and women ages 15 and up. This convoluted proposal from the Obama administration comes despite a court order in early April by U.S. District Court Judge Edward R. Korman to make EC available over-the-counter to all ages within 30 days of his decision. It comes from an administration which pledged to make science the cornerstone of public policy and instead has consistently flouted a wealth of accumulated evidence on emergency contraception. It also comes after several studies showing that current policy requiring prescriptions for some groups and not others has confused so many pharmacists that access to EC has been denied to many who were in fact legally eligible to obtain it quickly. In practice, the new policy will almost certainly perpetuate, not resolve, that confusion. . . .
The Nation: Hey, FDA: Drop the Plan B Restriction, by Jessica Valenti:
Yesterday, the FDA announced that it will make Plan B—also known as emergency contraception (EC) or the morning after pill—available over the counter to women older than 15 years old who can prove their age. This decision comes less than a week before the end of a thirty-day deadline imposed by a federal judge mandating EC be available without a prescription to women of all ages. So despite the FDA’s announcement, the Obama administration still needs to appeal the judge’s decision or request a stay by Monday. . . .
April 15, 2013
How Obama’s Proposed Budget Affects Reproductive Rights
ACLU (blog): Reproductive Rights and Yesterday's Budget Release, by Sarah Lipton-Lubet:
President Obama yesterday released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2014. Here are five things you should know about how it affects reproductive rights:
Home Rule for the District of Columbia
As he has each year of his presidency, President Obama removed the D.C. abortion ban from his budget proposal. That ban prohibits the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to pay for abortion care for low-income D.C. residents. By contrast, all other states are permitted to use non-federal revenues to pay for abortion care if they so choose. . . .
April 05, 2013
Federal Court Rules Government Must Remove Restrictions on Emergency Contraception
The New York Times: Judge Orders Morning-After Pill Available for All Ages, by Pam Belluck:
A federal judge ruled Friday that the government must make the most common morning-after pill available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger. In his ruling, he also accused the federal government of “bad faith” in dealing with the requests to make the pill universally available. . . .
March 02, 2013
What Will the Sequester Mean for Reproductive Health and Access?
Center for American Progress: Cutting Title X Family Planning in the Sequester Hurts Women’s Reproductive Health, by Lindsay Rosenthal:
If the automatic across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester are allowed to take effect tomorrow, Title X—our nation’s family-planning program—could be cut by $15 million in fiscal year 2013.* The cut would be a significant blow to Title X, which has already been cut by more than $23 million over the past two fiscal years—limiting access to family-planning services and causing clinics to cut back on staff and hours.
For more than 40 years, Title X has served primarily low-income women, who rely heavily on community health centers for their reproductive health care. . . .
ThinkProgress: Five Ways The Sequester Will Harm Women, by Lindsay Rosenthal:
If sequestration is allowed to take effect as scheduled on March 1, $1.2 trillion will be automatically removed from the federal budget in across-the-board spending cuts that would potentially reverse our economic recovery. These cuts — which take money out of critical investments in education, public health services and research, disaster preparedness, and national security — would have devastating consequences in communities around the country and would harm all Americans in a number of ways.
Sequestration also institutes several cuts to key public investments that would disproportionately harm women. Low-income women and women of color will be hit hardest by the sequestration. Here are the top five ways in which the sequestration harms women . . . .
February 25, 2013
Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop Dies at 96
In the 1980s, President Reagan -- under pressure from anti-choice activists -- directed C. Everett Koop to review the research on abortion and report back about the health effects of the procedure. Although personally opposed to abortion, Koop refused to issue the report, finding that there was no credible evidence that abortion caused women either physical or mental harm. Unfortunately, anti-choice activists continue to perpetuate the myth that abortion causes lasting emotional trauma and to push for laws that require doctors to pass along this misinformation to women.
See: The Guttmacher Institute: Abortion and Mental Health: Myths and Realities
The New York Times: C. Everett Koop, Forceful U.S. Surgeon General, Dies at 96, by Holcomb B. Noble:
Dr. C. Everett Koop, who was widely regarded as the most influential surgeon general in American history and played a crucial role in changing public attitudes about smoking, died on Monday at his home in Hanover, N.H. He was 96. . . .
Dr. Koop was completing a successful career as a pioneer in pediatric surgery when he was nominated for surgeon general, having caught the attention of conservatives with a series of seminars, films and books in collaboration with the theologian Francis Schaeffer that expressed anti-abortion views. . . .
February 13, 2013
Obama Administration's Contraceptive Mandate Compromise Gets Warmer Reception from Catholic Health Association
The Wall Street Journal - Washington Wire blog: Catholic Health Assn. Sees ‘Progress’ in Contraception Proposal, by Louise Radnofsky:
The Catholic Health Association said Wednesday that the Obama administration’s latest proposal on how employees of religiously affiliated institutions would get contraception under the 2010 health law represents “substantial progress.”
The response from the group’s president, Sister Carol Keehan, was considerably warmer than the one issued last week by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who said the new rules “fall short.” . . .
February 10, 2013
Infographic on Contraceptive Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act
The Nation: Who's Paying for Your Birth Control?, by Emily Douglas:
Last week, the Obama administration updated its proposed regulations regarding birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act. It refused to create an exemption for for-profit employers who object to provide contraceptive coverage on religious grounds, but it left a lot of people, reporters included, confused about how religiously affiliated employers would be accommodated, and who—the insurer, a third-party provider, or the federal government—would be left footing the bill for the coverage. . . .
The infographic is available here.
February 08, 2013
Catholic Bishops Reject White House Compromise on Contraceptive Coverage Mandate
The New York Times: Bishops Reject Birth Control Compromise, by Robert Pear:
The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected the latest White House proposal on health insurance coverage of contraceptives, saying it did not offer enough safeguards for religious hospitals, colleges and charities that objected to providing such coverage for their employees.
The bishops said they would continue fighting the federal mandate in court. . . .
President Obama Sends Video Message of Support to NARAL Dinner
Politico: President Obama sends support to abortion rights group, by Kathryn Smith:
Days after proposing a compromise on his contraceptive coverage policy, President Barack Obama sent a strong video message of support for women's right to make their own reproductive choices at a NARAL Pro-Choice America annual dinner Tuesday night.
"Tonight we celebrate the historic Roe v. Wade decision handed down 40 years ago, but we also gather to recommit ourselves to the decision's guiding principle: that women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care," the president said in a video at an anniversary celebration that also welcomed NARAL's new president, Ilyse Hogue. . . .
February 05, 2013
Obama Administration Proposes Compromise on Contraceptive Coverage in Attempt to Appease Objectors
The New York Times: White House Proposes Compromise on Contraception Coverage, by Robert Pear:
The Obama administration proposed yet another compromise on Friday in an effort to address the concerns of religious organizations that object to its policy requiring health insurance plans to cover contraceptives for women at no charge. . . .
See also: Feminist Majority Foundation: Statement of Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, on Proposed Policies for Contraceptive Coverage and Religious Organizations:
The Feminist Majority Foundation applauds the Obama Administration's continued commitment to women's access to contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposed rules released today by Health and Human Services operationalize the Obama Administration's commitment to requiring health insurance coverage under the ACA to provide birth control without co-pays or deductibles. Employees who work at religiously affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities/colleges will be covered seamlessly by the insurance provider or plan administrator. The sole exception is narrowly construed to only houses of worship that object and can deny coverage to their employees. . . .
February 01, 2013
FDA Approves Plan B Vending Machine
The Hill - Healthwatch: FDA OKs Plan B vending machine, by Sam Baker:
Federal regulators will let a Pennsylvania university continue to dispense Plan B — also known as the morning-after pill — through a vending machine. . . .
January 07, 2013
Supreme Court Declines to Review Challenge to Obama's Stem Cell Research Policy
The Los Angeles Times: Supreme Court rejects challenge to Obama stem cell policy, by David G. Savage:
The Supreme Court has turned away a challenge to President Obama’s policy of expanding government-funded research using embryonic stem cells that scientists say may offer hope for new treatments for spinal injuries and Parkinson’s disease.
The court’s action brings a quiet end to a lawsuit that briefly threatened to derail all funding for such research. . . .
January 03, 2013
Obama Signs Defense Authorization Act Including Health Coverage for Servicewomen and Military Dependents in Cases of Rape and Incest
Stand with Servicewomen press release: President Signs Defense Bill That Includes Shaheen Amendment Providing Equal Health Care for Servicewomen:
Bill Provides Equal Health Care Coverage for Servicewomen and Military Dependents in Cases of Rape and Incest
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has signed the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act into law, which includes the Shaheen Amendment, a provision that provides equal health care for servicewomen and military dependents who are survivors of rape and incest by extending to them the same abortion coverage provided to other women enrolled in federal health care.
The amendment repealing the ban was offered by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in May and adopted, with bipartisan support, by the Senate Armed Services Committee. House and Senate negotiators agreed to include the provision in the final defense bill and both chambers passed the bill last week.
“From the time I joined the Army in 1971, I was told that my principal job as an officer was to take care of my troops. We are a step closer to accomplishing that goal today,” said Major Gen. Dennis Laich, USAR (Ret.). “Women serve with courage and distinction in every branch of our service. I applaud Senator Shaheen for her tireless work to making sure these women receive the support they deserve.”
Just prior to the bill’s passage, Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state, joined dozens of military leaders in signing a letter urging congressional support for the amendment.
“This isn't about politics or ideology; it's about basic fairness and equity,” said Major General Gale Pollock, USA (Ret.). “The discriminatory policy preventing our women in uniform from receiving equal healthcare has gone on for too long and I am proud that Congress and the president have finally acted to right this wrong. Our servicewomen are fortunate to have a champion like Senator Shaheen, as well as strong supporters on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, fighting on their behalf.”
For more information, please visit www.standwithservicewomen.org
December 09, 2012
Secretary of State Clinton Pressured to Address Abortion While in Ireland
Think Progress: Clinton Pressured To Address Abortion While In Ireland, by Hayes Brown:
An open letter from Irish and American activists is calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to address Ireland’s abortion laws during her visit today and tomorrow.
The renewed look at Ireland’s abortion laws come in the aftermath of the tragic death of an Indian citizen living in Ireland, Savita Halappanavar, due to complications from her pregnancy and the refusal of her hospital to perform an abortion. Ireland maintains some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, but has pledged to reexamine them following global interest in Halappanavar’s story. . . .
Irish Central: Fine Gael TD deems Hillary Clinton's remark on women's health as "offensive reference" to abortion debate, by Dara Kelly:
Fine Gael TD Michael Creed has criticized a remark made by Hillary Clinton during her visit to Ireland as an "offensive reference" to Ireland's abortion debate. . . .
During her speech in DCU on human rights, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said global programs had been refocused to ensure the health of women and girls.
“So our starting point must be this: women’s lives matter," she said. "And promoting the human rights of women begins with saving the lives of women whenever we can.” . . .
October 23, 2012
Poll Shows Americans Overwhelmingly Support Access to Contraception
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: Poll finds broad support for contraception access, by Sam Baker:
Vast majorities of Americans support access to contraception, according to a new poll commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
The survey found widespread support for the thrust of President Obama's contraception mandate, which a recent Gallup poll indicated is a winning issue with female voters. American adults also overwhelmingly believe that lawmakers who oppose abortion should support contraception, according to Monday's poll. . . .
October 17, 2012
Women Favor Obama's Stance on Contraception and Abortion
The Hill - Healthwatch blog: Poll: Female voters give Obama edge on contraception, abortion, by Sam Baker:
President Obama's contraception mandate is helping him enormously with female voters, a new USA Today/Gallup poll says.
The survey found that Mitt Romney has made enormous gains with female voters — the candidates were tied among women who are likely to vote, and Obama had a nine-point lead among registered female voters. Concern over the economy has helped Romney erode what was once a sizable gender gap. . . .