Welcome to New York, Sandy!

As New York hunkers down for Hurricane Sandy, I want to let her know how we treat women up here–even powerful, independent women who don’t cross their legs, redirect their gale force winds off-shore, or otherwise behave like the little ladies so popular with our male Republican candidates these days.

1) We respect a woman’s right to control her reproductive destiny: New York legalized abortion before Roe vs. Wade became the law of the land.

2) While many of the country’s legislators are dreaming up new ways to demean women, we have New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins introducing the Reproductive Health Act, with eighteen co-sponsors. Its purpose: to provide a fundamental right to choose contraception and the right of a female to determine the course of a pregnancy; to authorize abortion prior to viability; and to decriminalize abortion.  [Read more...]

Free To Bully You and Me

I almost feel sorry for Darrell Issa, the California Congressman no one heard of before last Thursday’s meeting of the House Oversight Committee.

Not sorry enough to resist piling on the flaming ashes of his dignity. Not sorry enough to stop fighting his party’s ludicrous waste of my tax dollars agenda. (If the GOP has taught me anything, it’s that my money is mine in perpetuity—before, after and especially during the time any of it goes to visit Uncle Sammy.) And certainly not sorry enough to forgive the far right for inventing my least favorite Republican party game: Stick the Nose (and the ultrasound wand) in the Vagina.

But still … I feel for the man.

After more than a decade in office, Issa finally gets the juice to order himself up his very own Norma Desmond moment—a starring role in televised hearings that people without press passes will actually watch. Who knew he was nowhere near ready for his close-up?

These days even the lowliest intern in Washington knows that politics is all about optics. And however much the backlash over the all-male first panel seems like evidence to the contrary, so do Issa’s staffers. Someone saw to it that Issa had a female staff member sitting next to him, sure to appear on camera every time he leaned in to the mike. (If heads roll over this, why do I feel like hers will be the first to go?) Someone also made sure that the all-male line-up was neither all-white nor all-Christian. So care was taken. No one is pleading ignorance aforethought–no matter how much it seems like the wise thing to do.

The unfortunate truth is that the optics were exactly what the Issa camp ordered–a multicultural, multidenominational parade of patriarchal power, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the frat pack chatted up Coke bottles and pubic hair with Anita Hill.

What surprises me is that the Issa camp doesn’t seem to have seen the power–or expected that others would. I suppose to their minds–and eyes, apparently–the clergy were simply victims of an intrusive, religious freedom-denying state. (The panel’s title, remember, was the unsubtle “Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”)

The problem for us and them is that they did it with a straight face.

[Read more...]

How to be Pro-Choice in 8 (and a half) Simple Steps

I recently read an interesting discussion on Jezebel about how individuals could support the pro-choice movement. There were some great ideas, but as several commentors mentioned, they wished they could think of more things.  So – with apologies to Fellini – here are 8 ½ ideas:

1. Ask your gynecologist if she or he performs abortions.  As one awesome provider put it, “How would men react if they found out that their primary care doctors didn’t do prostate exams … and you gotta go and have somebody shove their finger up your ass who they’ve never met before? You think men would go along with it?”

 2. Look beyond Planned Parenthood.  This isn’t a knock on the incredible work that Planned Parenthood clinics do.  It’s just a reminder that while they’re often the best-funded game in town, they’re not the only one. Independent clinics can use volunteers and clinic escorts, too!

[Read more...]

GOP Proposes Excluding Abortion from Employer Provided Health Care

The new congress has many issues to address such as immigration, jobs, education, clean energy, and abortion. After the State of the Union, representatives of the Republican-led house argued for a smaller government that for instance does not place restrictions on businesses. From the oil spill in the Gulf (environment) to skyrocketing health care costs, Republicans advocate that business be left alone without any regulations. Yet, they are exempting abortion for the discussion of smaller government. When the issue of abortion is at hand, Republicans overlook regulations on business.

Republicans are advocating a restriction on businesses from providing health insurance plans that supply abortion coverage to their employees. If the business does provide health insurance with abortion coverage, then the business will fail to receive tax subsidies. Stephanie Condon of CBSNEWS explains how this legislation would be an extension of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions. For economic efficiency purposes, business will be compelled to choose health care options that do not cover abortions.

In the world of number crunching, the proposed restriction on business makes it much more feasible for a business to choose a health care plan with no abortion coverage than with one. With the middle class shrinking, this will push abortions to be inaccessible for many.  [Read more...]

New poll reveals interesting data about Catholics and choice.

religion_contraceptionI had the pleasure of participating in a conference call with Catholics for Choice yesterday morning to hear about the release of a recent poll the organization conducted about Catholic voters and their opinions on health care reform and reproductive health care coverage.

923 Catholic voters, selected randomly, participated in the poll, and 84% of participants attend church regularly.

Some of the more interesting results included:

  • Catholics were completely split on the question of whether an abortion should be covered whenever a woman and her doctor feel it appropriate, with 50% in favor and 50% opposed.
  • However, participants felt an abortion should be covered when a pregnancy threatens the life of a woman (84%), when a pregnancy was a result of rape or incest (76%), when a pregnancy poses long-term health problems for the woman (73%), and when any test shows the fetus has an seriously abnormal condition (66%).
  • Catholic voters do not believe abortion coverage should cause Catholics to oppose health care reform. 68% do not believe that as a Catholic, you should oppose a health care plan because it includes coverage for abortion.
  • In fact, 68% also disapproved of American Catholic bishops taking the position that Catholics should oppose a health care plan that covers abortions. [Read more...]

Recession-Proofing Your Birth Control

Times are tough, and birth control is expensive. Still, unintended pregnancy would be a catastrophe for most women in this economy. A recent study by The Guttmacher Institute found that one in four women were having difficulty paying for gynecologist visits and more frightening, skimping on birth control – cutting pills in half, skipping a few days here and there, and for some women, just going without. [Read more...]

Being Female Can Be A Pre-existing Condition

PregnantMotherDoctorEven people who are against healthcare reform realize that insurance companies regularly screw over decent hard working people all the time. Insurance companies take exploitation another level of women. This week there has been a lot of talk about how insurance companies in several states consider domestic violence a pre-existing condition.  This is a ridiculous policy, but is unfortunately not the only way women are abused by the system.

Thirty-eight states offer absolutely no protection for women purchasing insurance in the individual market. Women are charged higher premiums than men for identical plans. This higher cost is compounded by the fact women still earn approximately 78 cents to the every dollar a man makes. Therefore, programs such as employer financial assistance and tax credits for buying insurance unfairly leave women behind monetarily. [Read more...]

Tuesday News Roundup

mouse2Women’s Insurance Coverage Has Been Adversely Effected By the Recession – Feminist Majority Foundation
New HIV-blocking Gel Available For Women – EurekAlert
Are You the Master of Your Domain? Test Your Masturbation Knowledge – Teen Talk
When Will Society Support Women Who Choose NOT to Have Kids? – New York Post
The Deadly Toll of Abortion By Amateurs – New York Times
Why Did Dr. Carhart Lose Federal Protection? – Salon.com

Take Action to Protect Choice in New Jersey

Planned Parenthood in New Jersey needs your help. As the state struggles with an unprecedented economic down turn, we must continue to adequately support New Jersey’s family planning services. These programs provide basic health care services to so many New Jersey women and men, many of whom have recently lost their jobs and/or their health insurance.

  • New Jersey’s family planning agencies provide reproductive and other health care services to over 131,000 women and men. The Guttmacher Institute found that more than six in 10 women who obtained care at a family planning center in 2006 considered the center their usual source of medical care.
  • There is a health care crisis in this country. Over one million New Jersey residents are uninsured and over one million New Jersey women are in need of subsidized family planning services. There is not enough funding to meet the existing need and any cut to the program will mean that agencies will not be able serve some women currently receiving services.

If you’re a New Jersey resident, click over to the Planned Parenthood Action Center and sign their online petition to protect funding for reproductive health services.