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Archive for the ‘Abortion’ Category

By Hilarie Meyers, Development Intern

Since the midterm elections, anti-choice politicians and activists have launched an all-out war on women’s health and reproductive rights. Federally proposed efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning clinics have captured the nation’s attention and aroused activists on both sides of the political debate. However, state-level attacks on women’s health have slipped by relatively unnoticed and actually much more comprehensive and much more likely to have impacts on our access to reproductive health services.

On February 24, Virginia’s legislature passed a law that would increase the state’s regulation of abortion clinics. The law, which was discreetly included as an amendment in another piece of legislation, requires clinics that provide first trimester abortions to be regulated according to the same standards as hospitals. Prior to this new law, clinics providing first trimester abortions were regulated along the same lines as offices providing other outpatient medical procedures, such as cosmetic or plastic surgery, colonoscopies, corrective eye surgery, and sterilization. In his article, “Virginia’s new abortion law to figure in 2011 elections,” Hastings Wyman explains:

While some 44 states have passed regulations on abortion clinics in the past several decades, Virginia’s new law could be the strictest, depending on the recommendations of the state’s Board of Health. Opponents contend that under the regimen, abortion-providing facilities could be required to widen halls (to accommodate two gurneys passing each other), enlarge the size of the room where the abortion procedure is performed, mandate installation of costly equipment not normally used in abortions, and even require food facilities and possibly landscaping.

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By Rosario Quiroz, Community Mobilization Intern

Deputy Director Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas speaks at the Saturday Rally

Reproductive rights are under attack, with federal funding for family planning via Planned Parenthood at it’s center. We need to respond with urgency to this matter. About six thousand people definitely felt that urgency on Saturday afternoon in Foley Square, NYC, where we rallied to make sure that their voices are heard and that the message is clear–we’re not going to let our reproductive health care go down without a fight. Planned Parenthood and other clinics that receive Title X money make STD testing affordable and provides around 2.5 million women with contraceptives thus preventing many unplanned pregnancies. Planned Parenthood also provides over a million cervical cancer screenings and over 800,000 breast exams annually, detecting cancers at an early enough stage and keeping those cancers from claiming lives.

An attack on Planned Parenthood is, as President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards said, “a war on women’s health, and it must stop.” Planned Parenthood provides services to just under 5 million individuals; the debilitating effects that the proposed federal cuts would have on the 800 clinics nationwide are particularly dangerous for low and middle-income women and women of color, who oftentimes may not otherwise have access to the vital services that Planned Parenthood provides.

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Great News! We just learned from our colleagues at the Women of Color Policy Network that Lamar Advertising is pulling down the racist and offensive billboard by the anti-choice organization, Life Always, in Soho after an outpouring of calls and emails from reproductive health activists and communities of color.

Following a letter to Peter Costanza, Vice President and General Manager of LaMar Billboards, written by the Women of Color Policy Network, Mr. Costanza responded affirmatively that they would remove the billboard.

However, we must remain vigilant! Life Always is committed to spreading the campaign throughout country and there are continued threats to access to the full range of reproductive health services for low-income women and communities. This billboard is only one of the many attacks on reproductive freedom and services for low-income women across the country. Both the House and Presidential budgets propose to eliminate critical funding to programs that provide services to women and families.

Here’s proof that there is power in our voices! Join National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in telling Congress to stop attacking women! Click HERE to take Action!

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In a statement released today, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health strongly denounced the deeply offensive and racist billboard campaign by an anti-choice organization targeting African American women. This organization posted a three-story high billboard in New York City this week claiming that “the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb” in conjunction with a national campaign during Black History Month.

“These offensive billboards are nothing more than political ploys designed to stigmatize African American women and communities of color and restrict access to reproductive health care”, said Silvia Henriquez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “The organizations promoting these ads are focused on sensationalizing abortion and cutting even more women off from the reproductive health care they seek.”

Studies show that African American women and Latinas are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured and often lack basic access to birth control and comprehensive sex education due to fundamental structural inequities in society.

“We should be doing all we can to support women making the best personal reproductive health care decisions for themselves and their families”, added Henriquez. “As the only national Latina reproductive health and justice organization, we stand with other women of color to speak out in opposition to these condescending ad campaigns.”

For more information about NLIRH, visit: http://www.latinainstitute.org

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The fight has just begun for pro-choice advocates all over the nation. The House of Representatives has introduced two new bills that are a direct attack on women’s reproductive rights. Debate on these bills has already begun, it is up to us to make sure our opposition is known. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 3) and Protect Life Act (HR 358), were separately introduced by GOP leaders. Together, they paint a grim image of the anti-abortion agenda in the new House. Both of these bills will drastically impede affordable access to abortion leaving low-income Latino communities at a serious disadvantage.

Currently, the Hyde Amendment prevents the use of federal funding to directly provide for abortion services. HR 3 would take federal policy one step further by preventing indirect funds to abortion services going as far as to discourage private insurance companies from paying for services.

It would deny tax credits to companies that offer health plans that cover abortion and it would block anybody with insurance that covers abortions from receiving federal subsidies, even if the abortion portion is paid separately with personal funds.
This would make abortion only accessible to the extremely wealthy, leaving low-income communities, which are predominately of color, without recourse or access to abortion. It would also add an additional tax burden on small businesses and individuals.

Prohibit a federal agency or program[…] that received federal financial assistance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from requiring any health plan created or regulated under PPACA to discriminate against any institutional or individual health care entity based on the entity’s refusal to undergo training in theperformance of induced abortions, require or provide such training or refer for such training.

This bill is directly in conflict with Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA). Under EMTALA (1986) an emergency medical facility has to provide services to a patient regardless of their ability to pay. If they cannot stabilize the patient they are obligated to refer the patient to an institution that can. It places a woman’s life in danger and allows for undue subjectivity of health care providers.

These new anti-abortion bills go too far, and make obvious their goal of eliminating access to abortion all together. NLIRH urges you and your friends and family to take action and make your opposition to these draconian abortion bills known!

By Myra Guevara, Research Intern

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Today marks the 38th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision: Jane Roe et al. vs. Henry Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County. For Latinas who fought for reproductive justice, this court case was a relief and dramatically changed the landscape for reproductive rights.

Roe vs. Wade gave women access to a safe and legal abortion. By making abortion legal, the federal government made it possible to access safe abortions through licensed practitioners. The mortality rate of women seeking to terminate unwanted and unintended pregnancies has decreased significantly, but the political climate has become increasingly more tense. Instead of access improving, it has instead gotten more and more difficult for women to seek services.

Subsequent court cases after Roe v Wade gave states the right to restrict abortion access in certain capacities. States have taken advantage of this ability to restrict access to abortion. More than half of states created laws and statutes that introduced waiting periods, age restrictions, mandatory ultrasounds, spousal approval, and partial-abortion bans.

In 1992, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey gave states power to restrict abortions in the first trimester as long as it did not place ‘undue burden’ on the woman seeking abortions. What constitutes an “undue burden” is of course quite debatable, and has been the source of much controversy since that decision.

On the federal level, only three years after Roe, the Hyde Amendment passed and prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions. This significantly reduced access to abortion for low-income women, because their health insurance (provided through the government) would not cover the procedue. Now, under the 112th Congress a new bill has been proposed, HR-3,which would effectively make the Hyde Amendment permanent and add even more restrictions.

Justice Blackmun said it best when he drafted the opinion of the court back in 1973: “One’s philosophy, one’s experience, one’s exposure to the raw edges of human existence, one’s religious training, one’s attitude toward life and family and their values, and the moral standards one establishes and seeks to observe, are likely to influence and to color one’s thinking and conclusions about abortion.”   Justice Blackmun also acknowledged that “population growth, pollution, poverty and racial overtones tend to complicate and not simplify the issue.” 38 years later, the abortion debate continues to divide the nation in increasing levels of extremism.

As we all sit and contemplate the decisions of the higher court in Roe vs. Wade nearly 40 years ago we should be thankful that a woman’s right to choose was defended. But the war is not won and the battle is far from over. As we continue pushing for our future we must see that there are still barriers that keep certain low-income women, women of color, and other women with few options.

By Myra Guevara, Research Intern

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