Honor Roe By Funding Abortions

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. We’ve been sharing the history of Roe, and we’ll continue to be talking about Roe throughout the month.  But I thought we could take a quick time out from the history lessons and talk about how we can all honor Roe right now – today – all year.

One of the biggest challenges for patient access to abortion is funding.  Economic access intersects race, class, age, gender, and sexual orientation lines.  While an abortion in the first trimester may only cost $350 – $500 (and I say this very loosely), that’s still a lot of money to obtain.  As patients struggle to raise that money, the cost increases the longer they wait – and so does the need for more financial help.

Arizona has some of the worst abortion laws in the US. We seem to like setting the example for other states to follow.  We had three anti-abortion bills pass in 2012, and the bill that has received the most national attention is the 20-week gestation ban.  The bill provides a crazy definition of when gestation starts, so the bill has an injunction while the courts debate when pregnancy actually occurs.  However, when the bill goes into effect, many patients will have to travel out of state to get an abortion – which will only increase the cost and difficulty of obtaining their health care.

The proof is in the pudding.  [Read more...]

Facing Massive Backlash, Komen Foundation Reverses Itself

After announcing on Wednesday that it would no longer provide funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates for breast cancer screening and education programs, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation said earlier today that it would revise the policy which led to Planned Parenthood’s defunding.

While the initial rationale for defunding the organization was that it was undergoing a federal investigation, Komen now states that its policy will be amended so that only criminal, rather than political, investigations would disqualify a group from receiving funding. The statement did not address another reason that Komen’s president gave for cutting the funding: that Planned Parenthood referred patients to other providers for mammograms, rather than performing them themselves.

Perhaps this reason wasn’t addressed because it doesn’t make a lot of sense – it’s hardly uncommon for a primary physician to refer a patient to a specialist for further testing. And referring out doesn’t take away from the fact that the patient has been alerted to a potentially serious problem. Just being able to perform the initial exam and educate women about next steps is a vital service, and one that Planned Parenthood is fully capable of providing.

Komen’s initial decision was swiftly met with both outrage and outpourings of support for Planned Parenthood. As the foundation continues its attempts at damage control, Planned Parenthood has released its own thoughts on the matter: “We are enormously grateful that the Komen Foundation has clarified its grantmaking criteria, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Komen partners, leaders and volunteers.”

Breast Cancer Organization Pulls Funding to Planned Parenthood

Yesterday, Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced that it would no longer provide funding to Planned Parenthood affiliates for breast cancer screening and education programs. Komen, the world’s largest breast-cancer organization, had been providing grants to local clinics for at least six years; last year, Planned Parenthood affiliates received nearly $700,000 from the group.

Given that Komen’s mission statement includes the promise that “we’re working together to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures,” why would the organization cut funding for programs that help so many women receive potentially life-saving care? Komen’s official reason is that it recently adopted guidelines that prohibit funding organizations that are under congressional investigation. Last fall, Rep. Cliff Stern, a Republican from Florida, announced an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds.   [Read more...]

Pro-Choice News Roundup

It’s been a busy week as far as pro-choice news is concerned.  Here’s a roundup in case you missed anything.

Idaho woman challenges the state’s late-term abortion ban – Houston Chronicle
UK is debating mandatory counseling for abortion patients – The Guardian
RU-486 may become available in Australia – The Australian
Kansas told they have to fund Planned Parenthood – Businessweek
What new legal obstacles mean for women in Ohio – RH Reality Check

Lizz Winstead is Standing Up for Planned Parenthood

If you’re not watching The Daily Show, we just can’t be friends. Jon Stewart provides some of the smartest political commentary on television, and he’s  funny as hell.

If you do watch, you’re definitely aware of Lizz Winstead. Lizz is a blogger, stand-up comic, writer, and all-around feminist badass. Lizz is currently touring the U.S. to raise funds for Planned Parenthood affiliates. As you know, jerks across the country are threatening reproductive freedom by defunding Planned Parenthood, making sonograms mandatory, and even reducing access to birth control! (And they say they want to reduce abortions.)

Because Lizz had been touring the US selling out comedy venues, she decided to bring crowds in to raise money for the organization that had impacted her life so profoundly. If you’ve ever volunteered with your local affiliate, you know that they’re not exactly swimming with cash. In fact, most of them are having to reduce services and close additional days in order to pay the bills. (If you haven’t gone and volunteered…hey, go do that!)

I wanted to know why Lizz had chosen Planned Parenthood, and what she hoped to accomplish. I spoke with her about Planned Parenthood, anti-choicers, and how you can help. Follow me after the jump to find out what Lizz has to say! [Read more...]

Should Pro-Choice Organizations Be Involved in Advocacy Work?

While I was at the organizing summit for the National Network of Abortion Funds, I attended a very spirited debate on the topic of advocacy versus direct service. Specifically, the speakers were debating whether or not organizations like the abortions funds should focus their efforts on direct service (helping women pay for their abortions), or advocacy (trying to get the laws changed surrounding abortion). I’ll summarize each side’s arguments, and then you can give your opinion in the comments section. I’d love to hear how you view the debate.

Direct Service
In 2009, one in four women in the United States carried an unwanted pregnancy to term because the cost of an abortion was too high. That number is the motivation that drives the work of NNAF and its member funds. Last year, NNAF chapters answered calls from 126,000 women who needed help paying for their abortions; 24,000 were able to be served. According to the Guttmacher report cited earlier, there are about 200,000 women in the United States who need assistance paying for an abortion. If each of those women received $200 in assistance, that would mean that pro-choice groups would need to raise $40 million to meet the need. Last year NNAF chapters raised approximately $1.4 million, which is not a paltry amount of money. However, it’s very clear that there is still a lot of work left for us to do, and we currently don’t have enough money

Providing funding for abortion is simply a bandage solution, and it’s only a means to an end. The women who call abortion funds for assistance have larger economic issues at play. The fact is that we would have fewer late term abortions if laws like the Hyde Amendment didn’t exist and women could obtain abortions earlier in their pregnancies. Abortions become more expensive when they are delayed. So we need to be advocating for the laws to be changed in order to increase the availability of public funding for abortion.

Additionally, there is no such thing as a single issue movement. We need to be building larger advocacy coalitions that reach outside of the pro-choice movement for support.  This is an issue of economic justice, a lack of affordable housing, and unreliable access to public transportation; it’s a part of the much larger movement towards universal health care access; and it’s also a labor issue – since women need access to time off of work and often need child care to be able to go to a health care provider.  If we’re really after reproductive justice, we have got to connect all of the dots. [Read more...]

Preserving Women’s History is the Challenge

If preserving our history was as simple as preserving fruit, we might be onto something

Uncovering women’s history has often been challenging because of the scarcity of written records about women’s lives.  But another challenge is the lack of funding for preserving women’s historical sites.  Some sites are in better condition than others, which can be influenced by several factors.

Take Seneca Falls, for example.  The Wesleyan Chapel where the first women’s rights convention was held has not always been designated as a historical site, nor has it been home to a women’s history museum.  In the years following 1848, the Wesleyan Chapel was sold several times.  In its lifetime, the Wesleyan Chapel has been an opera house, a laundry mat, and a car dealership.  Today, the chapel is stripped of all its furniture.  However, the Visitors’ Center next door has an amazing tribute to the women’s movement in the US.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s homes are two other examples.  Although the homes are being preserved, there were many decades where the homes served as private residences, rather than museums.  Stanton’s home is preserved by the National Park System, but Anthony’s home is being preserved by a private foundation.  When I visited Stanton’s home last fall, it had been stripped of everything inside in order for the park service to do structural repairs.  When I asked the tour guide when the home would be restored, he said he did not know – it depended on funding streams.  The Anthony home has been slowly repaired over the years, but there are a few sections of the house that are not safe to enter.  Again, this is an issue of funding.  When you compare the state of these homes to the historical sites that honor men, it’s a little heartbreaking to think that women’s history has no monetary value in the US.  And that’s why we women need to keep demanding to have our history preserved.  [Read more...]

The Devastating Consequences of Recent New Jersey Budget Cuts to Family Planning

I wrote an article last week about the ill-advised decision of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to cut 7.5m dollars worth of funding to crucial family planning programs in the state. This week, we are now seeing the consequences of such poor judgement. New Jersey family planning clinics, which provide crucial preventative health care services including access to birth control, breast exams, Pap tests, STD screenings, and prenatal care, are now forced to reduce hours, eliminate services, and even shut down certain clinics entirely.

In response to the cuts, FamCare Inc. has said it plans to close centers in Millville and Vineland, reduce operations at its Bridgeton clinic from three days weekly to one and cease operations at Rowan University. Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey also said it expects patients to travel farther and wait longer following the cuts to its state funding, which represents nearly 25% of the group’s budget.

[Read more...]

Friday News Roundup

hotdogAZ Court Rules in Favor of Inmates’ Rights – Feminist Campus
The Link Between Women, Violence, and HIV – My Joy Online
Funding for HIV/AIDS Difficult to Find – SOS Children’s Villages
Medical and Social Aspects of Abortion – Dr. Warren Hern

Check out this GREAT interview with Gloria Feldt where she answers the question, “Why are you a Feminist?”

After the jump, I’ve got a rerun of Rachel Maddow explaining the history of the anti-choice terrorist movement. [Read more...]

Senate Finance Committee Mucks Up Health Care Reform

orrin hatchOrrin Hatch can eat me. On Tuesday the Senator from Utah offered two amendments to the health care reform bill. One of them was approved by the Senate Finance Committee, the other one failed by a razor-thin margin. The amendment that passed would reinstate funding for abstinence-only sex education, despite the overwhelming evidence that it doesn’t work and that it’s a huge waste of taxpayer funds. The increase is to the tune of $50 million, despite Republican gripes that health care reform is going to be too expensive.

The second amendment would have restricted access to abortion under health care reform, even in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the health of the woman. Under the Hatch proposal, insurance providers who want to offer coverage for abortion would have to offer a supplemental policy to women – in essence, women would continue to pay more for health insurance. Gee, thanks, Senator Hatch. You’re a peach.

Fortunately these were just committee votes. But you need to contact your Senators today and urge them to vote against these amendment.