Saturday, July 30, 2011

We've Had Enough!

Across the country, women’s reproductive rights are being attacked. In some cases it’s shouting and harassment when a woman seeks treatment at a women’s health clinic for either an abortion or for other reproductive health services. In other instances, it’s legislative attacks that attempt to deny a woman access to all forms of reproductive health services, including screenings, contraception, and abortion services.
In some states and at the Federal level, this has taken the form of funding restrictions on Planned Parenthood. The federal effort fortunately failed in the US Senate. Some states, including Indiana, New Hampshire, and Texas, have unfortunately restricted this funding.

Other states, including Pennsylvania, have attacked women’s reproductive health by passing TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider) laws which require extensive renovations that may be physically impossible in existing facilities and which are different and more burdensome than for other medical facilities; they also often include unannounced inspections. SB 732 has passed the PA Senate and the House Health Committee. A full House vote is expected in September or early October. This bill, if and when it becomes law (the Governor has said he will sign it) will shut down the 22 free-standing abortion clinics throughout PA. This amendment requires all free-standing abortion clinics to meet the standards for the Ambulatory Surgical Centers in addition (and in some cases, in contradiction) to the Abortion Control Act, the Ambulatory Gynaecological Surgery Facility Regulations, and the MCARE Act which they already have to follow. Take a moment and go to the Pennsylvania NOW blog to compare what the current abortion clinic regulations are and what this TRAP law would do.
Other legislative attacks occurring across the country—e.g.,in Tennessee and Missouri as well as here in Pennsylvania—are attempting to pass “Stupak on Steroids” bills that will, starting in 2014, prohibit women who purchase health insurance through the new federal health insurance exchanges, from purchasing, WITH THEIR OWN MONEY, coverage for abortion services and, depending on how it is interpreted, possibly even the purchase of contraceptives. Specifically Senate Bill 3 will deny insurance plans participating in the insurance exchange from covering abortion services except in the cases where the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest, or where the life of the woman is in danger. Note that this legislation is not necessary. The question of whether abortion will be covered in federally subsidized insurance exchanges has already been settled. In response to concerns raised by US Senator Ben Nelson, a staunch opponent of abortion, women who want to use their own money to purchase a health insurance plan that covers abortion services must send a separate payment so the funding for abortion coverage is completely separate and paid entirely by the individual.
And against the backdrop of this wave of anti-abortion legislative assaults previously mentioned, Operation Rescue/Operation Save America are targeting abortion clinics in Orlando, FL and Germanantown, MD, in an attempt to shut these clinics down via efforts to block clinic entrances and harassment of women attempting to receive treatment at abortion facilities in these two cities. In Orlando, Operation Rescue/Operation Save America attempted, but failed to shut down six clinics during the week of July 22. In Germantown, Operation Rescue has announced plans for a “Summer of Mercy 2.0″ targeting the brave and outspoken Dr. LeRoy Carhart in Germantown, MD, July 31-August 7. Operation Rescue is the same organization that hounded Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, KS, for years (until he was assassinated by one of their associates in May ’09). Their original “Summer of Mercy” in 1991 shut down access to the Dr. Tiller’s clinic for six weeks and resulted in 3,400 arrests, they are invoking this alarming history again in their “Summer of Mercy 2.0” event.


You can show your support for women seeking abortion services by helping out in Germantown this week. Between July 31 and August 7, activists will be needed from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. outside of Dr. Carhart’s clinic, located at 13233 Executive Park Drive in Germantown, Maryland. These shifts will kick off with the Summer Celebration of Choice Kick-Off Walk on Sunday, July 31 and continue through the evening of Sunday, August 7. To sign up for a shift, please go to or contact NOW Field Organizer Anita Lederer at
You can also speak out against the legislation winding its way through the Pennsylvania General Assembly by participating in Pennsylvanian’s for ChoiceWe’ve Had Enough” rally on September 27 in Harrisburg in the Capital Rotunda. Join us in telling the PA Legislature to STOP the attacks on women’s health in Pennsylvania! You can sign up at to join in our effort to stop this legislation. Help us fight these dangerous bills and join us in declaring that…


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Contraception is Prevention

From Raising Women's Voices...

Contraception is Prevention: Make Sure Health Reform Treats It That Way

The new health care reform law is lowering the cost of preventive health services by eliminating co-pays and deductibles for these services in all new insurance plans. Amazingly, however, contraception is not yet included in the list of preventive services exempt from this kind of “cost sharing” – even though birth control is one of the preventive services that’s most critical for protecting women’s health.

This summer, U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will decide whether contraception should be added to the list of preventive services that are exempt from co-pays and deductibles under health reform. She will receive a recommendation from medical experts at the Institute of Medicine in July and is expected to issue a ruling in August.

Take Action Today:

Tell HHS to add contraception to the list of preventive services exempt from insurance company co-pays and deductibles so that comprehensive contraceptive care will be available at no additional cost.

Mobilize your friends and neighbors to speak out on this issue!

Between now and when HHS announces its decision, you can help secure this women’s health victory by raising the visibility of this issue in your community. You can make sure that policy makers in Washington hear the message loud and clear– comprehensive contraceptive care should be exempt from cost-sharing, just like other medically proven preventive health care. Raise the topic at community meetings and educational forums on health reform and other places where women’s health is being discussed. Here are key points to make
  • Women strongly support removing co-pays for preventive health care services.
  • Contraception is essential preventive care for women, and better access to comprehensive contraceptive care leads to better health for women and their babies.
The Case for Having Contraception Exempt from Co-Pays and Deductibles
 Eliminating cost barriers to contraception will prevent health problems for women and families. Cost-sharing requirements, like co-payments, make people, especially low-income people, less likely to get health services, including preventive care and prescription drugs.1

In 2009, 30 percent of sexually active low- and middle-income women reported having put off a gynecology or birth control visit to save money; one-quarter of those who used the contraceptive pill reported saving money by using the method inconsistently.2

In states that made it easier for low-income women to afford contraception by extending Medicaid family planning coverage to more people, there was a dramatic drop in the incidence of short birth intervals (a year or less between babies) for women in the program. Shorter times between a birth and a subsequent pregnancy make preterm birth and low birth weight more likely, which has serious negative consequences for the babies’ health.3, 4

There is broad public support for making contraception available at no additional cost. Public opinion research shows that 84 percent of adults nationwide believe family planning services, including contraception, are important to basic preventive health care services. This strong support crosses many demographic lines: 5, 6

·         77 percent of Republicans, 88 percent of Independents and 93 percent of Democrats agree.
·         77 percent of Catholic women voters say insurance should cover the full cost of contraception
·         Latinas and African American women ages 18-34 are almost unanimous in their support for this policy (89% and 92%, respectively).

Medical and public health experts agree with the public – contraception is prevention.

There is a strong public health consensus that contraception is an essential tool in preventing bad health outcomes for women and children. The CDC cites family planning as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century, noting that access to contraceptive services and supplies is responsible for expanding intervals between births, “contribut[ing] to the better health of infants, children and women.”7

“Contraception is an essential and basic preventive health service; it reduces the number of unintended pregnancies and thus the need for abortion.”8

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals

1 Swartz K, Cost-sharing: effects on spending and outcomes, Research Synthesis Report, Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2010, no. 20
2 Guttmacher Institute, A Real-Time Look at the Impact of the Recession on Women’s Family Planning and Pregnancy Decisions, 2009.
3 Conde-Aguedelo A, Rosas-Bermudez A and Kafury-Goeta AC, Birthspacing and risk of adverse perinatal outcomes: a meta-analysis, Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006, 295(15):1809-1823.
4 Zhu BP, Effect of interpregnancy interval on birth outcomes: findings from three recent US studies, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2005, 89(supplement 1):S25-S33.
5 Survey Findings on Public Support for Family Planning, Lake Research Partners, June 3, 2011
6 Fully Covering Rx Birth Control, June/July 2010, Hart Research for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Achievements in public health, 1900-1999: family planning, Morbidity and Mortality
Weekly Report, 1999, 48(47):1073-1080.