Choice News

Friday Femorandum: What’s At Stake

If you need more evidence that pro-choice voters need to put aside their differences and work together to prevent the 2017 inauguration of President Trump or Cruz, let Friday Femorandum provide you with a few.  With legislatures passing laws that actively harm women across the nation, congressmen and -women hellbent on pursuing “investigations” into Planned Parenthood that are obvious smokescreens to obscure their radical anti-choice agenda, and a Supreme Court that could overturn both Roe v. Wade and women’s health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the last thing we need is a President who wants nothing more than to ban abortion and turn the clock back to the 1950s.

Planned Parenthood announced this week that a multi-state campaign to defund the health-care organization over the past several years now threaten access to health care for half a million people, Colorlines reports.

Legislatures in 24 states have moved forward with attempts to cut funding to Planned Parenthood—most of them, as you can see in the map below, in the South and Midwest. Officials in 11 of those states are trying to prevent Medicaid funds from paying for abortions (a similar bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. David Taylor, failed in Washington State this year), prompting President Obama to send an urgent letter to states informing them that “providing the full range of women’s health services…shall not be grounds for a state’s action against a provider in the Medicaid program.”

In Congress, anti-choice Republicans have proposed a bill that would ban so-called sex-selective and race-selective abortions (a similar bill in our own state legislature also failed this year). The bill would impose criminal penalties on abortion providers who perform abortions knowing that they are based on the sex or race of the fetus. The bill, critics say, is unnecessary, relies on racist stereotypes (particularly against Asian American women and families), and would turn women of color into “suspects in the exam room” and force doctors to interrogate women about their reasons for seeking abortions. A group of 56 people signed a letter to Congress objecting to the proposal this week, Rewire reports; all were people of color who had had abortions.

As the Supreme Court considers whether Texas’ laws regulating most abortion providers in the state out of existence constitute an “undue burden” on women’s ability to obtain an abortion, Rewire looks at  (and denounces) the legacy of an older ruling, Gonzales v. Carhart, which redefined the “undue burden” standard created by Roe. Basically, by finding that a law banning a certain type of late-term abortion procedure didn’t create an undue burden on women in 2007, it set the stage for states to argue that virtually no restriction constitutes a undue burden, as long as some “other choice” is theoretically available (even if that “choice” isn’t applicable to the specific circumstances—a medication abortion, which could be considered an alternative “choice,” isn’t available after a few weeks’ gestation, for example.)

The result, Rewire argues, has been that “anti-choice lawmakers in states across the country push more abortion restrictions under the guise that patient ‘choice’ remains, when increasingly the opposite is true.” Allowing Texas’ abortion restrictions to stay in place would signal that the Court is willing to watch states eliminate access to abortion as long as it remains legal in theory.

That’s a lot of bummers for one week, so we’ll leave you with some good news: Ted Cruz is wrong when he calls the current generation the most anti-abortion-rights young people in the nation’s history. In fact, Univision reports, “What Cruz said is a lie. Cruz stated that young people currently are the most anti-abortion generation in modern times. There are many studies that indicate that currently, young people aren’t more or less anti-choice than in the second half of the 1990s; and if we consider [another recent] Gallup poll, this generation is more pro-choice than in 2010.”



Choice News

Friday Femorandum: They Didn’t #AskAboutAbortion

This week featured the NINTH Democratic Presidential debate (207 days to go!) with no questions about abortion or women’s reproductive rights in general; it also marked the passage of Equal Pay Day, the date when the average woman’s pay catches up with what the average made the previous year (women of color won’t see their pay catch up until significantly later in the year.) Let’s celebrate our 79 cents and the slow approach of Election Day with a recap of some news, shall we?

Those lovable wonks at the Economic Opportunity Institute have an excellent primer on what the pay gap means for women in Washington state, which includes the most succinct explanation we’ve heard yet for the persistent pay gap between men and women: “Occupational segregation and devaluing ‘women’s work.'” In other words, women have a hard time getting jobs in male-dominated industries for many reasons including institutionalized sexism, and society fails to value the jobs women do have, like jobs that involve caregiving, teaching, and household labor.

If 79 cents on the dollar doesn’t sound sufficiently awful to you (55 cents if you’re Latina), here’s another way to look at the pay gap, courtesy of The Hill: Every year, women in the US lose $500 billion in wages to unequal pay, enough for a woman working a full-time, year-round job to “buy food for 1.6 more years, make seven more months of mortgage and utilities payments, pay rent for 11 more months or pay for nine more years of birth control.” 

Democratic Presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton marked Equal Pay Day by releasing a detailed proposal to close the pay gap, including a new law requiring companies to explain why they pay men and women differently for the same work; raising the minimum wage to give the lowest-income women a boost; mandating paid parental leave so that women aren’t forced to choose between their families and their careers; and encouraging pay transparency in companies to dispel the mystery around what people earn and give women ammunition when claiming companies have engaged in pay discrimination.

Rewire reports on the latest news on abortion rights from the states, which is predictably horrible (proposals to ban all or most abortions; proposals to ban abortions for specific reasons; proposals to ban the donation of fetal tissue for research). There’s also some good news, including the recent FDA ruling expanding access to medical abortion and easing access to contraceptives through pharmacies, for a change.

All of that would appear to set the stage, if anything could, for Democratic Presidential debate moderators to finally ask the candidates what, specifically, they would to to protect and expand access abortion and other reproductive services. As we know, that did not happen, despite persistent efforts from women’s rights advocates to urge the moderators to bring it up.

Hillary Clinton was apparently so annoyed about this ongoing oversight that she decided to do something about it.

“I want to say something about this, since we’re talking about the Supreme Court and what’s at stake,” Clinton said, according to Vox, which also has the video. “We’ve had eight debates before. This is our ninth. We’ve not had one question about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care. Not one question.”

Clinton went on to mention her opponent Bernie Sanders’ dismissal of abortion rights as a “distraction,” and description of Planned Parenthood, whose clinics have been the target of increasing violence since the release of fraudulent videos purporting to depict the sale of fetal body parts, as “part of the establishment” he is working to bring down.

I don’t think it’s a distraction,” she said. “It goes to the heart of who we are as women, our rights, our autonomy, our ability to make our own decisions, and we need to be talking about that and defending Planned Parenthood from these outrageous attacks.”

 Sanders responded by saying he has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record.
NARAL Pro-Choice America has endorsed Clinton. But if you need a reminder that either of these candidates would be 10,000 percent better than the metastasizing dumpster fire that is the leading GOP candidate and his team, check out Skepchick’s take on the comments that candidate has made about women, which boil down to, as they put it, “Don’t worry, ladies. Donald Trump will take care of you.”
Vote #nottrump in 2016!



Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Clinics Under Attack, Trump Under Pressure

It wouldn’t be a day that ends in “y” without an abortion-related misstep by at least one of the GOP Presidential candidates, and Republican frontrunner Donald “None of my girlfriends had abortions” Trump started the week off with several. On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that Trump had taken “five different positions on abortion in three days,” first declaring that women should be punished for having abortions, then saying he agrees with Reagan and is pro-life with exceptions, then saying abortion laws should be up to the states, then saying what he meant to say in the first place was that clinics should be punished, and finally shifting gears again and saying that the legality of abortion is settled and that he won’t try to change the law. brooklyn nine nine suspicious amy santiago gina linetti concerned

Compared to that whirlwind of hot air, fellow abortion-hater and GOP also-ran John Kasich’s view on abortion rights was positively succinct, if not coherent. Kasich told CNN that he believes that when abortion is outlawed, “you’ll look at, you know, clinics whatever” to bear the brunt of legal punishment. The other Republican contender, Ted Cruz, also chimed in on Trump’s rapidly vacillating views, saying he wouldn’t punish women who get abortions because they’re the real victims, and should be treasured because of “the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world.” This is your weekly reminder that all three of these candidates have garbage beliefs about women and would like nothing better than to turn women’s rights back 150 years.

lol laughing laugh debate smhOver in the party that doesn’t believe women should be housebound incubators, the two candidates are both strong supporters of abortion rights and women’s rights more broadly. However, the Atlantic’s Li Zhou argues, Hillary Clinton has a longer, stronger, altogether more convincing record, going back decades, of prioritizing bills and policies promoting reproductive rights, equal pay, and family leave. Zhou agrees that millennials shouldn’t vote for Hillary because she’s a woman–they should vote for her because she has placed reproductive rights, equal pay, family leave, and other “women’s issues” at the center of her platform, and because merely checking the right box is “necessary, but not sufficient” to be called a champion for women’s rights.

As California authorities raided the house of anti-Planned Parenthood video fabulist David Daleiden to investigate possible criminal activity by Daleiden and the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress this week, the National Abortion Federation released research showing that attacks and threats against abortion clinics spiked dramatically after Daleiden’s CMP released doctored videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood staffers negotiating to sell fetal body parts. (Not one investigation at the state or federal level has found any evidence of wrongdoing by the health-care provider).The Daily Show with Trevor Noah no smh jessica williams reaction

Time reports that after the videos were released, “Clinic blockades almost doubled between 2014 and 2015, NAF said, and picketing increased fourfold to 21,715 reported incidents—more than any other year on record. The number of suspicious packages and hoax devices sent to clinics also quadrupled to 35 in 2015 from nine in 2014.” Inciting terror by spreading lies about “selling baby body parts” works, apparently, which is yet another reason Daleiden and his crew should be held accountable for the actions they’ve provoked.

Finally, here in this Washington, the Stranger has a must-read take on the Republican senate’s successful efforts to thwart women’s health legislation this session, including expanded access to birth control and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a NARAL priority that would have guaranteed reasonable accommodations to help pregnant workers stay on the job.  NARAL Pro-Choice Washington ED Rachel Berkson told the Strnger, “It seemed like Republicans knew they couldn’t just explicitly be terrible to women… They had a sense of the electorate,” but that  at the end of the day, they weren’t really willing to go to the mat.”


Abortion Care, Activism, Elections, Legislature

That’s a Wrap!

It took a special session and a mass veto by Governor Jay Inslee to budge lawmakers out of their latest budget impasse, but the 2016 legislative session finally wrapped up last week.

Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of many of our legislative allies, inaction was par for the course this session, as legislators failed to act on bills that would have protected pregnant workers, advanced gender pay equity, and expanded access to contraception.

Meanwhile, right-wing lawmakers did their best to push bills aimed at constraining abortion rights and restricting access to abortion services for low-income women, including extreme new proposals that mirrored anti-choice laws in states like Arizona, North Carolina, and Texas.

During our visits to Olympia this year, we lobbied key legislators, targeted lawmakers who stood in the way of women’s reproductive and economic equality, held several events (culminating in a huge rally on the Capitol Steps featuring US Sen. Patty Murray), and testified at countless hearings about the importance of preserving and expanding women’s right to choose.

Choice includes the full range of reproductive health options, including healthy pregnancy. To that end, we fought hard for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a commonsense bill that would have required employers to provide reasonable accommodations, such as more-frequent restroom breaks, time off for prenatal care appointments, or temporary reassignment to lighter duty, for pregnant workers.

That bill died thanks to partisan deadlock in the senate, but we hope to revisit the proposal next year. We know there is broad consensus that pregnant workers shouldn’t have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck.

Other bills that didn’t move forward this year include legislation to allow women to obtain 12 months of birth-control pills, and a bill that would have extended equal-pay protections for women.

Anti-choice legislators also stood in our way this year by trying to move the needle on abortion rights, proposing bills that that would have banned sex-selective abortion, required parental notification for abortion for women under 18, and eliminated state Medicaid funding for abortion care.

Fortunately, we managed to hold off those onerous new restrictions with the help of our stalwart pro-choice champions. But we have to be vigilant, because our pro-choice majority is razor-thin. In this critical election year, with so much at stake, it isn’t enough to be passively pro-choice; we need champions who will actively fight to protect and expand the right to choose in Washington state.

Between now and November, we’ll be identifying and championing elected officials who stand with women by taking tough stands and pushing for bills that advance reproductive and economic equality. And we’ll be targeting those who stand in the way, by focusing our electoral and outreach efforts on lawmakers who propose new restrictions on reproductive health care and refuse to pass legislation, like the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, that helps women succeed in the workplace while still making the reproductive choices that are right for them.

We’ll keep you updated throughout the year about opportunities to help us lift up true pro-choice champions, and oppose those who stand in the way of women’s reproductive freedom!

Choice News

Friday Femorandum: The Burden Is Undue

Happy Friday! Here are some quick hits from a week of Trump logic, Supreme Court confusion, and “serious issues.”

Rewire (formerly RH Reality Check) points out that although Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s statement this week that there should be “some kind of punishment” for women who have abortions grabbed headlines, that position is right in line with the mainstream of the current Republican Party. Right now, without the kind of near-total ban on abortions the Republican candidates are pushing for, women are being punished for attempting to self-induce abortions in states where legal abortion is unavailable, jailing women who use drugs during pregnancy, and forcing women who want abortions to travel hundreds of miles, endure waiting periods and “counseling” that seeks to change their minds about their decision, and listen to fetal heartbeats before they’re allowed to go forward with the procedure.

hillary clinton benghazi brush your shoulders off brush yo shoulders off brushes shouldersGOP efforts to distance themselves from Trump’s blunt statement (which he quickly walked back) by saying women are the real “victims” of the right to choose only highlight what a retrograde, moribund party the GOP really is.

Bernie Sanders breezily dismissed Trump’s remarks about abortion as just “another stupid remark” by Trump and a distraction from “a serious discussion about the serious issues facing our country.” Hillary Clinton, who is endorsed by both NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, reacted swiftly, pointing out that for many women, the right to safe abortion is, in fact, a very “serious issue,” and that there needed to be “a very serious discussion” about the issue among the candidates. Hillary Clinton politics america usa shrug

At Slate’s Double X blog, Meaghan Winter argues that Roe v. Wade was lost nearly 25 years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled that restrictions such as waiting periods and parental consent laws did not constitute an “undue burden” on women’s right to obtain abortions. Since then, the “undue burden” loophole has been widened over and over again, culminating most recently in Whole Women’s v. Hellerstedt, the case that’s currently before the Court. If SCOTUS rules in favor of the state of Texas, the state’s 5.4 million women of reproductive age would have access to just 10 abortion clinics.

Separately, Double X  notes that according to a new study, even a ridiculous 72-hour waiting period hasn’t managed to sway women in Utah from seeking abortions, although it does impose substantial new financial and logistical burdens on those women. So adding extra burdens fails to stop abortions but does punish women by costing them money, time, and peace of mind. Sounds like, well, punishment.


Hillary Clinton no politics hillary demdebateIf you’re looking for an excellent primer on the other Supreme Court case on reproductive rights, look no further than another excellent Slate product, Dahlia Lithwick’s Amicus podcast, which this week explains the arguments on both sides of Zubik v. Burwell. In that case, a group of nuns called the Little Sisters of the Poor argue that having to fill out a form to allow their employees to obtain contraception outside their insurance plan violates their religious liberty to refuse to provide contraception to their workers.

After very confusing oral arguments in which the male Supreme Court justices revealed that they had little concept of how birth control or even insurance works, the Court sent the plaintiffs back to the drawing board to come up with some way of meeting the no-cost contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act without being complicit in helping their employees prevent unintended pregnancy. Aren’t you glad we live in a country where protecting religious group’s opinions about what health care is and is not essential trumps women’s right to control their own reproductive organs.