Choice News

Friday Femorandum: The Good, the Bad, the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

With an ambiguous Supreme Court decision that kept the religious-exemption clause of the Affordable Care Act intact, some good news for opponents of the ridiculous “tampon tax,” and the ongoing noxious waste fire that is the Donald J. Trump campaign for President, it was an odd week for reproductive rights in America. Should we celebrate, or despair? You be the judge!
The Simpsons yay cheering hooray yeaThe good
: In New York state, a bill exempting from the state sales tax tampons, pads, and other sanitary supplies for people who menstruate just passed the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature, and officials in New York City are proposing a law that would make menstrual supplies free in all schools, homeless shelters, and prisons. Another proposal, from New York Congresswoman Grace Meng, would make pads and tampons eligible for purchase with the pretax Flexible Spending Accounts created by the Affordable Care Act. As if it needs saying: Taxing pads and tampons as if they’re “luxuries” women can just go without is an absurdly sexist policy that shows why we need more women writing laws. ‘Nuff said.
The Simpsons homer simpson season 16 episode 8 crowdThe bad
: Well, wouldn’t you know it, Donald Trump changed his position on an issue of national importance yet again, this time doing a clunky pivot on his widely reported comment that women should face “some kind of punishment” for receiving abortion care. Rewire reports on Trump’s latest spin on his original claim (which he’s already walked back several times), which is that that whole “punishment” thing was totally just a metaphor: 

Though Trump has touted his anti-choice positions on the campaign trail, the candidate’s stances on abortion rights and reproductive health care have repeatedly shifted, leading many to question where he truly stands on the matter.

Anti-choice leaders, however, are supporting the candidate, and even Troy Newman, president of extremist group Operation Rescue, has signaled that he could back Trump.

The Simpsons bart simpson season 18 episode 14 18x14The ¯\_(ツ)_/¯: As you may have heard, this week the US Supreme Court decided not to rule on a case involving numerous religious nonprofits that objected to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate. Specifically, the nonprofits argued that a requirement that they fill out a form notifying the government of their objection to paying for birth control violated their right to religious freedom, and made the employers “complicit” the very thing they found objectionable, contraceptive access for their workers.

NPR  reports that the court’s decision erases all the lower court rulings on the question of ACA compliance and instructs those courts to try harder to work things out between the parties in the lawsuits. That sets the stage for a future fight over the same issues, but explicitly leaves contraception coverage under the ACA in place, meaning that women who work for religious nonprofits can receive free contraception under the ACA mandate–for now.

In California, pharmacists who go through a special training regimen and get approval from the state pharmacy board may sell birth control pills from behind the counter, eliminating the need for women to visit the doctor for a prescription every year. However, KQED reports that few pharmacies statewide actually provide the pills, perhaps because of the training mandate, perhaps because pharmacists simply aren’t aware of the law.

Here in Washington, a similar law allows pharmacists who go through training and win pharmacy board approval to prescribe contraception; but, as in California, few pharmacies actually provide birth control pills without a doctor’s prescription .


Friday Femorandum: A Complete 180

After repeatedly and vocally disavowing GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump for his “disgusting” language directed at women and seeming lack of sincere religious bona fides, the leader of the radically anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List did a complete 180 and supported Trump this week, writing an op/ed titled “The Pro-Life Case for Trump” on the right-wing website Town Hall.

SBA List President Marjorie Dannelfelser, whose group previously said Trump “cannot be trusted” on the issue of abortion, wrote that Trump’s Supreme Court nominations would be “a powerful step forward for life” and that his election as President would provide the “missing piece” needed to defund Planned Parenthood.nicki minaj unimpressed attitude oh no you didnt american idol

Dannelfelser was joined in her newfound support for Trump this week by none other than anti-choice terror advocate Troy Newman, who has endorsed the murder of abortion providers. According to Right Wing Watch, Newman explained his support for Trump using, in Newman’s words, a “pithy acronym” that spells out the word “truth” (why not “life,” or “forced birth”?) using phrases such as “Take back the Supreme Court” and “Undo it all,” meaning everything Obama has accomplished.

No doubt Trump (whose own position on the right to choose has “evolved” all the way from basically to pro-choice to “women should be punished” to somewhere in the middle) is honored to have the backing of two such highly regarded political heavyweights.

A new anti-choice Utah law we wrote about in last week’s Femorandum has taken effect, requiring doctors to administer anesthesia to women obtaining abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation, on the widely discredited notion that fetuses at that stage of development can feel pain. The law, The Frisky writes, has “befuddled” a lot of doctors, because the state legislature gave them no instructions about how to comply with the law, and doctors can’t treat “pain” that doesn’t exist.

The Late Late Show with James Corden confused shocked tituss burgess woah“I have no choice but to cross my fingers and hope that what I’m doing already is in compliance, because I don’t know what they’re talking about,” one abortion provider told the AP.

Utah is the only state to have passed a law requiring extra anesthesia for women seeking abortions, and, hopefully, will be the last.

David Daleiden, the anti-choice crusader whose relentless smear campaign against Planned Parenthood this past year contributed to an unprecedented level of violence and threats against abortion providers, has long insisted his fraudulently edited undercover videos constitute “journalism.” The claim naturally rankles actual journalists, and today, the Columbia Journalism Review has a damning piece explaining, point, why Daleiden’s claim to being an investigative journalist is bogus.

CJR notes that Daleiden’s videos don’t meet even the most generous definition of journalism, since they were not made with the intention to distribute them to a mass audience; were obtained using fraudulent and dishonest methods; and could not exist if Daleiden hadn’t broken both a binding nondisclosure agreement and California state law.

A real “citizen journalist,” as Daleiden calls himself, could have created a truthful story using information he found in his investigation: the size of the fetal-tissue market, the amount of money Planned Parenthood charged private medical-research companies for samples, the types of activities that are deemed illegal and why, and thorny ethical issues involving subjects like embryonic stem cell research and patient care in clinics. He might have mentioned that the fetal-tissue market has been around for nearly a century and has led to major medical advancements. And he could have done all this while also representing the voices that decry the very existence of the tissue trade. But Daleiden did not pursue that story, just as he didn’t use undercover cameras as a last resort. The story he went after didn’t even require those James Bond techniques. Instead, he produced an intentionally emotional provocation that led to an investigation of smoke where there was no fire.

One of the anti-choice extremists Daleiden’s videos helped inspire, Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Louis Dear, was ruled incompetent to stand trial last week, and will be held in a mental-health facility until he’s ruled competent to understand and defend against the charges against him, if that ever happens.

Rewire  explains why this ruling is such a significant blow to reproductive rights advocates, who must constantly battle against the notion that every act of clinic violence is perpetrated by a crazed “lone gunman,” and that no act of premeditated violence against abortion providers is ever more than an isolated incident. The ruling strikes a blow to the recognition of anti-choice violence as terrorism. “Being behaviorally unpredictable or existing on the political fringe is not the same thing as being legally incompetent to stand trial,” Rewire’s Jessica Mason Pieklo writes. “It’s dangerous for the court to decide otherwise.

Choice News

Friday Femorandum: This Is Really Happening

donald trump with trump everyone listFrom the This Is Really Happening Files: Reality TV star and noted bankruptcy expert Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America. While that reality settles in, we’re taking a break from national news this week to focus on what’s happening with (and often to) the right to choose in some of those United States.

In Missouri: The state house of representatives this week moved a “personhood” bill one step closer to reality, the Associated Press reports. The bill would grant full constitutional rights to “unborn human children at every stage of biological development,” meaning that a fertilized egg will have the same “right to life” as a grown human woman. In floor debate, one of the proponents of this extremist bill suggested that having a baby is a “silver lining” for rape victims forced to carry their pregnancies to term.

One proponent of the bill, state Rep. Mike Moon, compared the bill to Dred Scott, the infamous 1837 Supreme Court case affirming slavery–a  comparison to which the Missouri NAACP promptly and firmly objected, the Springfield News-Leader reports.

trump donald trump no problem trumps penis no problem there

In Utah: A law is set to go into effect this month that will require women seeking abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation to take painkillers during their procedures–not for them, but for their fetus, on the medically unsubstantiated grounds that a fetus is capable of feeling pain. The New York Times reports that most doctors dispute the notion that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks, and that requiring women to take unspecified anesthetic drugs could pose health risks. Fetal anesthesia would also increase the cost of getting an abortion, putting an already-expensive medical procedure further out of reach for low-income women.

In AlabamaThinkProgress  reports that a new Alabama law will create a buffer zone barring abortion clinics within 2,000 feet of schools, forcing at least one abortion clinic in the state to move or close. That clinic, the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville, was forced to move just two years ago by another law restricting where abortion providers could be located. This obvious attempt to harass and ultimately shut down the state’s few remaining abortion providers puts abortion clinics in the same class as sex offenders, who have to stay 2,000 feet from K-8 schools and any place where children typically congregate, as Raw Story points out.

donald trump brain fox news gop primary debate 2015

In Indiana: A federal judge has scheduled a June hearing for a challenge to the state’s ban on abortions based on fetal abnormalities. The law would require women to carry to term pregnancies with severely deformed fetuses, including those that would die immediately or soon after birth. The ACLU has sued the state to challenge both the fetal-abnormality law and another law that would require women to pay for fetal burial or cremation in addition to the cost of an abortion.

In Oklahoma: In a story that also covers the Alabama and Utah laws, Slate reports that a new law in Oklahoma, currently awaiting the Republican governor’s signature, that wouldmake performing an abortion (except to save the life of a woman) a felony, punishable by up to three years in prison and the revocation of the doctor’s medical license.

In Kansas: The legislature passed two laws that will almost certainly be signed by the state’s anti-choice governor, San Brownbeck. The first, the AP reports, would prohibit midwives from performing abortions; the second would renew the state ban on providing federal funds for Planned Parenthood for non-abortion-related services (the federal Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal funding for abortion.)

Birth Control Access, GiveBIG, Reproductive Justice

GiveBIG to Support Young Pro-Choice Advocates Like Me

This post is by Tjistke Dekker, an intern at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington and president of the University of Washington Students for NARAL.

I personally have had nothing but positive experiences while accessing reproductive care for myself. The first time I sought birth control was when I was 17. I was in the first relationship of my life, and I had settled on Nuvaring. I was very fortunate to be aware of all my birth control options, and in many other ways as well. My insurance covered my birth control and my mom was supportive and drove me to the doctor herself.
I got involved with NARAL because as I became more aware of American politics, the endless attacks on women’s access to reproductive care made me angry. I am very aware of the ways in which I was fortunate, and the many barriers that exist for different women trying to access basic care. I personally would not feel safe if I did not have access to birth control and abortion, and I am particularly motivated by the disproportionate impact lack of access has on poor women, women of color, and other under-served groups. I chose NARAL because it addresses pro-choice issues in an inclusive way. NARAL isn’t just fighting for rich white women, but also acknowledges how poverty and workplace policies limit women’s reproductive freedom.

I am currently an intern for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, and  the president of the Students of NARAL club on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus. In my time at NARAL, I have had the opportunity to learn community organizing skills and I’ve learned a great deal about the state of reproductive care across the country. I’ve learned about TRAP laws, emergency contraception laws in Washington, and different methods of birth control. One of the most important things I’ve learned from NARAL is the idea that an essential part of having a right is having the resources to be able to access that right. Women have a right to a safe abortion, but legal limits and poverty can stand in their way. I love how NARAL frames reproductive choice in a way that empowers women.

One of my favorite things to do for NARAL is tabling, which involves having a table set up on campus and collecting signatures for a petition or initiative. Meeting new people who support NARAL’s cause is always exciting. Although I table on campus, I end up talking to people of all ages. It’s a pleasure to connect and realize how many diverse Americans support the pro-choice cause. Tabling is also very satisfying because at the end of the day, you can count how many signatures you’ve gathered, which always gives me a sense of accomplishment. I enjoy doing work that connects to an important cause.
I think I’ve definitely grown from my experience with NARAL. I’ve gained a better understanding of how seemingly different political issues all work together to influence a woman’s ability to enjoy reproductive choice. I’ve also met many fun and enthusiastic people who share my pro-choice values.

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington inspires young people like Tjistke to get involved and help us spread the pro-choice message! If you’d like us continue to do the work we do, including our youth programs, please GiveBIG  to the NARAL Pro-Choice Washington Foundation today.

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.”