Abortion Information


PHOTOGRAPH: SHANA NOVAK/GETTY IMAGES

A new study finds that making contraceptives and reproductive care accessible through a state-funded program in Colorado reduced the dropout rate for young women.

IN 2009, COLORADO’S public health department launched an initiative that helped family planning clinics expand access to low- or no-cost contraceptives and reproductive health care. By 2016, the state’s birth rate fell 54 percent for women ages 15 to 19, and the abortion rate fell 63 percent among the same age group.

“We were shocked by the reduction of the abortion and unintended pregnancy rates, but happy it was having this effect,” says Angela Fellers LeMire, interim program manager of the Colorado Family Planning Program, which oversaw the initiative. “Everyone in the field and at the state health department felt good about the work we were doing.”

Now, a study published in May in Science Advances shows that the Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI) had one more benefit: More young women graduated from high school. Researchers at the University of Colorado campuses in Boulder and Denver, in collaboration with those at the US Census Bureau, conducted the study.

Using state American Community Survey and other census data from 2009 to 2017, the authors compared graduation rates in Colorado before and after the state adopted the family planning program with those of 17 other states without such policies. The researchers estimated that the program reduced the percentage of Colorado women between the ages of 20 and 22 without a high school diploma by 14 percent. This resulted, they estimated, in an additional 3,800 women born between the years 1994 and 1996 who graduated from high school by their early twenties.

“As someone who studies the subject, I was surprised. I didn’t expect to see this big an effect,” says lead study author Amanda Stevenson, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

For decades, the link between birth control access and educational or other achievements has been mostly anecdotal. Part of the rationale behind family planning programs, including the federal Title X program–which provides reproductive health services, including birth control, for low-income and uninsured residents–is that controlling fertility offers other potential socioeconomic benefits, like the ability for people to complete their education. The new study, says Emily Johnston, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, which conducts economic and social policy research, is “addressing a question the field has long been interested in: What are the impacts, beyond fertility, on people’s lives?”

“Up to now, evidence regarding the effects of contraception on women’s education and opportunities comes from the 1960s and 1970s, but a lot has changed since then,” Martha Bailey, a professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote to WIRED in an email. “This paper shows that access to contraception may still help women take advantage of opportunities and boost their prospects in the labor market.”

To home in on whether access to birth control–as opposed to other variables like access to abortion or adoption services, school quality, fertility rates, or the presence of school programs for pregnant women–was key in contributing to the increase in graduation rates, the authors compared the changes observed in Colorado to that set of 17 other states. (The comparison states were Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.) These states had similar overall high school graduation rates and state policies, like expanded Medicaid insurance coverage. “Anything is possible, but we didn’t find any statewide policy changes that affected these factors,” Stevenson says.

Another factor that could have influenced pregnancies and high school graduation rates would have been if teenagers had become less sexually active. But, Johnston says, it’s unlikely that Colorado would be unique. “You would have to have reason to believe that sexual activity was changing in ways that were different for different states,” she says.

Johnston adds that, while she is confident in the results, one limitation of the study is the small Black and Asian populations in Colorado. Given studies that report racial and ethnic disparities in contraception access and use, it may be challenging to extrapolate whether the results of such an initiative would apply to states with more diverse populations, or to a national program. That suggests the need for a further analysis of family planning programs in other states.

Another question is whether it would be useful to compare the high school graduation rates for young Colorado men whose partners become pregnant to those of men from other states. “For our study, we focused on women, but we think there could be effects on young men,” Stevenson says. For instance, expanded access to contraception may benefit men because it would make them less likely to drop out of school to support a pregnant partner.

Full state funding for Colorado’s initiative only lasted through June 2015, although it received some temporary funding from different organizations for 2015-2016. Since then, Colorado’s family planning program has relied on a combination of state and federal funding. Recently, Colorado lawmakers proposed a bill to expand access to birth control and other reproductive health services through the state’s Medicaid program. If passed, it could help boost state funding to continue the initiative.

2017 analysis by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that offering contraception benefited the state budget: It had saved Colorado nearly $70 million that would have been spent on programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and family aid.

The program also improved people’s access not just to birth control, but to clinicians who can provide other aspects of reproductive health care. According to Jody Steinauer, the vice chair of education at the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, this is essential. “Access means that someone is able to receive contraceptive counseling that is comprehensive,” she says. “We don’t want to be coercive in how we provide contraceptive care and make people pay for which method is right for them.”

“I’m thrilled that they did the study,” Steinauer continues, adding that the research “builds support for more community-level engagement and commitment to provide contraception access for all people, and it strengthens the policy argument” more directly for access for teens.

Ultimately, says Stevenson, birth control and family planning programs like the CFPI can have a long-term economic effect not only for the state, but for individual women and their families. “It’s not just the case that if you spend money on contraceptives, there will be fewer births,” Stevenson says. “Empowering people to control their fertility lets them invest in their futures in a different way. It makes people’s lives better. If more people graduate from high school, that’s good for all of us.”

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/access-to-birth-control-let-more-girls-graduate-high-school/

Facts and science haven’t been important to the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world—and that’s probably not changing any time soon.
 Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Don’t mock Marjorie Taylor Greene and others for pretending birth control is an abortifacient. They’re just repeating the lie until it becomes the truth.

Reproductive rights advocates in Missouri notched a win last Saturday when they thwarted efforts by Republican lawmakers to redefine certain contraceptives as “abortion-inducing drugs” and ban Medicaid from covering them. Republican state senators falsely claimed that using contraceptives like Plan B or IUDs is the same thing as getting an abortion.

This is categorically untrue, and critics were swift to point out that these forms of hormonal birth control prevent pregnancy, while abortion-inducing drugs like mifepristone, or RU-486 (as it was once called), terminate an existing pregnancy. But this lie has been an anti-choice talking point for a long, long time.

It’s easy to laugh at Marjorie Taylor Greene when she spouts this nonsense, as she did recently on the U.S. House floor, saying, “The Plan B pill kills a baby in the womb once a woman is already pregnant,”

Plan B does no such thing, and this piece from Dr. Jen Gunter provides a detailed explanation as to why Greene and others who parrot that line are spewing false information.

Quite a few anti-abortion advocates, lawmakers, and politicians make claims similar to Greene’s. In their view, a fertilized egg is a person, and if a contraceptive prevents that person from being implanted into the uterus, then that contraceptive caused an abortion. (Ted Cruz and Brett Kavanaugh are just two people who have parroted claims about birth control being an abortion-inducing drug.)

Anti-choicers will point to language from the Food and Drug Administration that suggests emergency contraceptives can prevent implantation of an already fertilized egg; in their view, that’s the same as an abortion. Even if that were the case—and the medical consensus is that it is not, as Gunter points out—this is legacy language from the 1990s and early 2000s, when there was no data demonstrating for certain that Plan B operated by inhibiting ovulation.

As a result, the insert for Plan B says the following:

Plan B One-Step is believed to act as an emergency contraceptive principally by preventing ovulation or fertilization (by altering tubal transport of sperm and/or ova). In addition, it may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium).

Similar wording appears on the FDA website:

If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation). If a fertilized egg is implanted prior to taking Plan B, Plan B will not work.

However, there is no data demonstrating that Plan B inhibits implantation, and by now there is even more research showing that it works by preventing ovulation. Moreover, as Gunter notes, “What is often lost in the discussion is that package inserts and FDA labeling are mostly legal documents, not medical ones.”

They’re CYA documents that the FDA puts out to … well … C their A.When Marjorie Taylor Greene says birth control causes abortions, this is not just another example of the ignorance that she routinely displays … this is her being intentional in promoting radical right-wing ideology.

Republican attempts to define intrauterine devices as abortion-inducing drugs are equally absurd. IUDs prevent pregnancy by preventing embryos from forming. They do not terminate a pregnancy.

But facts and science are not important to the Catholic lobby or the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world. What is important is repeating ad nauseum the lie that equates birth control and abortion until the lie becomes the truth. Reproductive rights advocates have been battling misconceptions about birth control for decades to forestall Republican efforts to recriminalize birth control.

If that sounds ridiculous to you, here’s something you might not know: Birth control has only been completely legal since 1972. In 1965, the Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut ruled that married couples were legally entitled to use birth control, but that right wasn’t extended to single people until Eisenstadt v. Baird. In 1972.

If you were single in 1971, you weren’t legally entitled to use birth control to prevent yourself from becoming pregnant, nor were you legally entitled to get an abortion to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

And here’s something you need to know: Republicans want to drag us back to the reproductive health-care policies of the 1960s.

They may say they’re not coming for your birth control. They may mock you and call you the “condom police” while they crow about condoms being available in every college bathroom. Coming for your birth control? Pish posh. (This was basically Ted Cruz’s position in 2016, complete with deriding the idea of a conservative condom police.)

But they are coming for your birth control, and they’re doing it by redefining what birth control is—just as Missouri recently tried to do.

This is a tactic. This is not a mistake of science, nor is it reason to carry on about how unintelligent Ted Cruz, Brett Kavanaugh, or Marjorie Taylor Greene happen to be. Yes, they may be unintelligent, but pretending birth control is an abortifacient isn’t about intelligence. It’s about strategy. And the strategy has been carried out by anti-choice groups since the late ‘90s.

“Increasingly, they have moved to attack and denigrate contraception,” Cynthia Dailard, then a senior public policy associate at Guttmacher Institute, lamented in 2006. “Ten years ago, the fight was all about abortion,” she told the New York Times.

Those attacks exploded after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law and implemented the contraception mandate: a requirement that employers offer insurance coverage that includes birth control without co-pay.

This set off a firestorm of litigation and hand-wringing over a rather innocuous policy intended to bring health insurance costs for men and women into parity. It’s hard not to think that the Catholic Church blew its papal top because the organization was losing good Catholic women to sin: Turns out most Catholic women don’t share the bishops’ viewpoint on contraception, and they pop birth control into their mouths like so many candies from a Pez dispenser. In fact, polling in 2011 showed that a majority of Catholics supported the contraceptive mandate.

I wrote about this in 2013, back when the contraception mandate wars were just beginning, and we were still a year away from the Supreme Court ruling that for-profit corporations could opt out of providing birth control coverage to their employees:

Since Catholics apparently don’t care about contraception as much as the Catholic higher-ups would like them to, the Catholic lobby mounted a public relations campaign to make them care; and they did so by, as Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches points out, demonizing contraceptives as “abortion-inducing” or “pregnancy-terminating” drugs. The Catholic lobby purposefully conflated contraception and abortion-inducing drugs like RU-486 (which is not covered by the birth control benefit policy) in an effort to, “broaden opposition to the rule beyond the narrow group of people opposed to contraception to people also opposed to abortion.”

Ignoring science and redefining basic medical concepts about what an abortion seemed a sure-fire way to, as I wrote then, rile up the apathetic.

So when Marjorie Taylor Greene gets on the House floor and says that birth control causes abortions, this is not just another example of the ignorance that she routinely displays as if her job were congressional jester, not congressional representative. This is her being intentional in promoting radical right-wing ideology. While the urge to mock her is strong, it’s not enough to mock her for being ignorant. It’s not enough to point to her many inane statements as evidence that she’s a crank who should never be taken seriously. It’s not even enough to retort, “birth control is not an abortifacient.” Whether certain kinds of contraceptives are an abortifacient or not is irrelevant. What’s relevant is making people think contraceptives cause abortions.

Criminalizing birth control has never been the religious right’s primary cause—that distinct honor goes to banning abortion. For the past 48 years, the religious right’s focus has been abortion. Regulating abortion. Criminalizing abortion. Enacting and defending laws designed to undermine Roe v. Wade and stick it to pregnant people.

But 48 years of agitating against abortion is likely to pay off for the religious right next June, when the Court issues a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. So the question becomes: What ever will they do next?

Come for your birth control, that’s what. Reproductive health advocates may have won a battle in Missouri. But the effort to convince you that birth control causes abortions is just beginning.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/ablc/2021/07/01/birth-control-doesnt-cause-abortions-and-conservatives-know-it/

Elise Wrabetz / NBC News; Getty Images, AP

Organizations are strategizing for the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and a future where even more women seek financial and logistical help.

Last summer, Crystal Zaragoza drove a 15-year-old patient from her home in rural Georgia to Virginia, the nearest location where the teen could receive the abortion care she needed.

Zaragoza remained with the patient every step of the way, making the 650-mile trip in one, long 12-hour haul and staying with her at a hotel during and after the procedure before driving back.

Access Reproductive Care-Southeast, the abortion fund serving women in six states across the Southeast U.S. where Zaragoza works, provides what’s called “practical support” — helping women overcome significant financial, logistical and geographic hurdles beyond just paying for the abortion care itself. Zaragoza locates providers and facilitates lodging, escorts to and from clinics, child care and travel (often doing the driving herself).

Demand for the help groups like Zaragoza’s offer has grown in the years the states her organization serves — Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi — have chipped away at abortion access. The pandemic has also had an impact. But the Supreme Court’s decision last month to consider the legality of Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy — a move pro-abortion-rights advocates say means the newly conservative bench is eyeing an end to Roe v. Wade — has practical support groups looking to ramp up fundraising, volunteering and staffing with even greater urgency.

“We have been preparing for a long while for an eventual reality where Roe is decimated, and a lot of that has been trying to scale abortion funds,” said Yamani Hernandez, the executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, which helps women access and receive abortion care.

“These groups have already been navigating a difficult year-plus, and if things do not go well with the Supreme Court, a lot more travel and a lot more assistance will be needed. Distances to travel will increase and the amount of people traveling will increase,” she said.

The groups, which are also becoming the target of a new, restrictive wave of anti-abortion laws, are strategizing for the long-dreaded possibility that the way they operate could represent the future of abortion care for millions of women.

Need spiked during pandemic, groups say

Several organizations said the number of women seeking help from abortion funds and practical support groups spiked during the pandemic and has continued to rise in the months since infection rates began declining.

The number of patients helped by the National Abortion Federation, which runs the five largest patient assistance funds by dollar amount, rose in each month from April 2020 to December 2020 (over the prior year) by an average of 21 percent, the group’s leaders said. That equated to more than 100,000 women receiving financial assistance from the group to pay for abortion care. In 2020, the group grew its staff of regional case managers to 19 from eight and plans to add more.

NNAF’s Hernandez, meanwhile, said call volume across her group’s 83 member funds doubled in the months since May 2020 over the prior year numbers.

Image: Anti-abortion protestors confront pateients entering the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.
Derenda Hancock, who leads the Pink House Defenders, ushers a woman surrounded by anti-abortion protesters into the clinic in Jackson, Miss., on May 22, 2021.Evelyn Hockstein / Reuters file

ARC-Southeast saw its call volume double during that time, too, officials said. Before the pandemic, the group was making an average of 350 pledges per month — an accurate way to track demand because it indicates the number of callers who sought care and actually received money, according to the group. Since June 2020, ARC-Southeast has made an average of 600 pledges a month.

Meanwhile, the Brigid Alliance, a New York-based group that pays for women with low income to travel to states where they can receive abortion care, has, since January 2020, seen a 20 percent increase in its client volume and has doubled its budget, via fundraising efforts, in anticipation that it will keep growing.

In 2020, the group helped 661 women travel to receive abortion care. Less than halfway through 2021, it’s already helped 440 women.

“People didn’t stop needing abortions just because there was a pandemic. It just became more difficult,” the group’s executive director, Odile Schalit, said.

‘Two Americas’ when it comes to abortion rights

Leaders of these groups predicted need for their services will only rise ahead of, and following, the Supreme Court’s consideration of Mississippi’s abortion ban. The law currently allows exceptions for medical emergencies and severe fetal abnormalities.

Abortion-rights activists worry the case will provide an opening for the court to decide whether all bans on abortion before fetal viability — which Roe prohibits — are unconstitutional. (The court will hear the case in the fall and will likely issue a decision next spring or summer.)

“This would basically create two Americas when it comes to abortion. Of course we already have that, but this will make it even worse,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that studies reproductive health rights. “If the Supreme Court really takes a whack at abortion rights and upholds the Mississippi ban or determines that pre-viability bans are OK, you’re talking about having two very different experiences in this country.”

“If you’re living pretty much anywhere in the middle of the country or the South, abortion could very well be, effectively, banned to a large extent,” Nash said.

Image: Protestors Rally Against Restrictive New Texas Abortion Law In Austin
Protesters hold up signs and cheer at a protest outside the Texas state capitol on May 29, 2021 in Austin, Texas.Sergio Flores / Getty Images file
Image: Protestors Rally Against Restrictive New Texas Abortion Law In Austin
Protesters stand near the gate of the Texas state capitol at a protest outside the Texas state capitol on May 29, 2021 in Austin, Texas.Sergio Flores / Getty Images

Abortion funds and practical support groups could then become some of the only avenues for millions of women who can’t otherwise afford or navigate abortion care on their own. Groups are already looking to lift their fundraising so they can increase services to meet what they say will be an all-but-certain surge in demand.

“Virtually any ruling other than one that upholds Roe is going to result in more people having to travel farther and raise more resources, whether that’s paying for procedures or travel costs or lost wages costs,” said the Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, president of the National Abortion Federation. “People are going to be more and more dependent on abortion funds and the groups like NAF who can provide those resources.”

The NNAF, for example, launched a pilot program this year for several of its 83 member abortion funds that will “fully resource the mid-Atlantic region so they can say yes to every caller,” Hernandez said. The group is trying to double its $15 million budget, Hernandez said, via grants and direct appeals to individual donors.

ARC-Southeast, for its part, has grown its small full-time paid staff of 10 by 40 percent and has expanded its volunteer network of 120 unpaid individuals by a similar amount.

Meanwhile, the National Institute for Reproductive Health and its sister advocacy arm, the NIRH Action Fund, are looking to grow their collective budget by about 30 percent, the groups said.

Groups say they are targeted by new state laws

The Mississippi case and its subsequent fallout, however, are far from the the only battle on the minds of leaders of abortion funds and practical support groups.

A unique Texas law enacted in May banning abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy also included language allowing anyone, even someone outside Texas, to sue an abortion provider or anyone else who helped someone get an abortion after the six-week limit for up to $10,000 per defendant. (Texas’ law prohibits state officials from enforcing the ban and rather leaves enforcement to private citizens’ lawsuits; abortion rights activists have vowed to challenge it.)

But that language would also apply to abortion funds and practical support organizations — and lawsuits would cripple those group’s ability to operate at a critical moment, they said.

“It’s absolutely a new way for state legislatures trying to find ways to end practical support. It could be a model for states considering how to further crack down on that kind of support,” said Guttmacher’s Nash.

That would make it even more difficult for people like Schalit to help women like the 24-year-old patient she assisted last year to travel from Tennessee to New Mexico after nearly every part of the system put up roadblocks for her to receive abortion care.

The woman, Schalit said, discovered she was pregnant at eight weeks and made plans to attempt a medication abortion but lost her job (and her medical benefits) around that time after being laid off due to Covid-19. Her unemployment checks were delayed, and by the time she received her first, the closest possible clinics in Tennessee and Kentucky that provided care were booked up. Soon, she had surpassed the gestational limits in both states, prompting her to seek assistance from the Brigid Alliance.

Schalit personally planned the woman’s travel and hotel and connected her to the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which helped her seek abortion care.

“Her barriers were a combination of everything many women are facing in this world right now in trying to have an abortion, pandemic or no,” Schalit said. “It’s a phenomenal story, but it’s also typical. And it’s about to become even more typical.”

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/two-americas-aid-groups-prepare-more-women-needing-cross-state-n1272133?fbclid=IwAR1sfppbfZV_9WA9j5retmNKiLj9G44EAoOtDXwa-QNnDvP0bR-W53PmuRI

Why should women’s lives and health be at the mercy of the next election?

very day, we wake up in the morning and read about ourselves in the paper, or at least, about what we are doing – abortions for women who need them.  

We have the bizarre and malignant law in Texas signed by the governor with Trump-style flourishes that makes abortion in that state illegal even before a woman knows that she’s pregnant.   It makes everyone with a mean desire to control other people’s lives eligible to make a legal living hell for anyone who even thinks about helping a woman with her personal health care.  

Dr. Warren M. Hern

And we have the U.S. Supreme Court giving serious consideration to eviscerating Roe v. Wade by upholding the Mississippi law that would make my medical practice illegal. 

In the midst of this, we are routinely helping women from red states who come to my office in Colorado to end pregnancies that would endanger their lives in many ways.  

One of them came to us recently with a desired pregnancy that was hopelessly afflicted and threatened her own life and health.  She learned more than halfway through her pregnancy that she was carrying twins joined at the chest with one heart.  

This is extremely rare.  In 47 years of medical practice specializing in outpatient abortion services, this is only the fourth case like this I have seen. 

The “normal” obstetrical treatment for a case like this is cesarean delivery at term using the “classical” (vertical) incision in the uterus. This means that the woman is not only subject to the usual risk of death for the duration of the pregnancy, she also has a uterus that is permanently damaged.  This increases her risk of death in future pregnancies.  It is the “normal” treatment even though there is no hope that she can have a healthy baby. 

Before the time of modern obstetrics, this pregnancy would have been a death sentence.  Among the Native Amazonians among whom I have lived and worked for over 55 years in remote parts of the Peruvian Amazon, a woman with this pregnancy would die.  

In my patient’s case, she was not only distraught at having to end a desired pregnancy, she also viewed me and members of my staff with open contempt, hostility and disgust.  She is against abortion.  She accepted our care that she requested, and we took care of her.   

Because of the protocols that I have developed in over 45 years of this work and a highly skilled staff, we applied our routine procedures over four days, and in the end, we delivered the hopelessly deformed twin fetuses intact.  

This was amazing, but everything worked perfectly.  Her procedure was relatively easy and completely uncomplicated.  This was not only better for her medically and surgically, but she wanted an intact delivery so she could view and hold her babies.

As we routinely do, for women who want this, my laboratory staff dressed the twins in baby clothes that we provide including two stocking caps and placed the twin fetuses in a basket lined with quilted blankets. A former patient donates these for women who, like her, suffered this loss of a desired pregnancy.  

My head counselor took the fetuses into the recovery room, where my patient, with her mother, sat together and grieved.  The patient held her babies, touched them, and kissed them.  She and her mother wept and told her babies how much they loved them.  Her mother expressed gratitude for our help.  

The patient requested that I make family photographs of this moment, which I did, and which I routinely do for patients making this request.   Patients often request footprints, which my staff makes, and request private cremation, which we arrange.   We send the ashes in an urn to the woman and her family. 

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

Before discharge, a nurse gives the patient final instructions, my medical colleague and I visit with the patient and help arrange for her follow-up exam at home, and a member of my staff takes the patient to her hotel in our vehicle.    

Thiis is very personal health care for women who are having the worst moment of their lives.   We are making it safe for them to make this decision so they can go on with their lives. Why should it be controversial?   

Why should these women’s lives and health be at the mercy of the next election?   Why should their emotional suffering be compounded by ruthless people with a political agenda?  Why should we have to work behind bulletproof windows to help them? 

Why? 

Source: https://coloradosun.com/2021/07/05/abortion-late-term-opinion/?mc_cid=bf11d572c1&mc_eid=4d19dcaa4f

Olympian says an abortion caused her to miss doping test that got her suspended
© Getty Images

Olympic track and field star Brianna McNeal said that a missed doping test in January 2020, which led to a five-year suspension from competition, occurred while she was recovering from an abortion. 

McNeal, who won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in the 100-meter hurdles and last month qualified to compete in the Tokyo games, told The New York Times in an interview this week that an anti-doping official came to her home in Northridge, Calif., two days after her procedure. 

The athlete said that she was lying in bed at the time and did not hear the official arrive at the front door, according to the Times.

On Friday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland upheld a five-year ban that had been levied against McNeal last month for “tampering within the results management process” in connection with the missed test. 

As part of the punishment, the 29-year-old will also have “all competitive results” between Feb. 13, 2020, and Aug. 14, 2020, “disqualified,” meaning that she will have to give up any “medals, titles, points, prize money and prizes” earned during that time period. 

While McNeal told the Times that she initially hoped to keep the abortion private, she has now decided to open up in order to fight the punishment. 

“Right now I feel excommunicated from the sport itself and stigmatized, and to me it is unfair,” she said in an interview before her appeal was denied. 

“I just don’t believe that this warranted a suspension at all, much less a five-year suspension, for just a technicality, an honest mistake during a very emotional time,” she added. 

The Olympian specifically condemned anti-doping authorities, explaining, “They say that they are protecting athletes that are clean, but I don’t feel protected at all.”

“I just feel like I’m being judged for this very big decision I made that really affected my life,” she said. 

McNeal, who told the Times that she is “not doping and will never dope,” was issued a yearlong ban four years ago for missing three tests within a 12-month period. 

World Athletics, the global governing body for track and field, in its most recent suspension specifically cited that McNeal had changed the date on her doctor’s note informing officials of a medical procedure, with the athlete telling the Times that she mistakenly thought the abortion clinic put the incorrect date. 

World Athletics declined to comment when contacted by The Hill, explaining that the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) handles all anti-doping matters for the organization. 

The AIU tweeted Friday that it is planning on publishing soon a detailed explanation of the decision to uphold McNeal’s suspension. 

McNeal’s suspension comes as a wave of criticism has erupted following the suspension of U.S. star sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson over a positive marijuana test. 

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Friday said that Richardson, who was set to represent the country in the 100-meter dash in the Tokyo Olympics, accepted a one-month suspension beginning June 28.

Source: https://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/561400-olympian-says-an-abortion-caused-her-to-miss-doping-test-that?fbclid=IwAR3Qk-RArci8S2b-XPSVvlZ1TiF0Z08n4AHb8lJef50ShJmWjKtmqldYtgE

REUTERS
Image caption,Some 62% of voters backed an easing of the territory’s strict abortion rules

Gibraltar voted to relax its tough anti-abortion laws in a referendum on Thursday.

The tiny British territory has some of the harshest abortion laws in Europe – the penalty for breaching the law is life imprisonment.

Voters backed relaxing the rules to allow abortions where a woman’s mental or physical health is at risk or when foetuses have fatal physical defects.

Some 62% voted to change the law, with 36% voting against.

Unlike in England, Scotland and Wales – where abortion can legally be performed – abortion in Gibraltar is punishable by life imprisonment, though no-one has ever been convicted in modern times.

Until now, women wanting to have an abortion have had to travel to Spain or Britain.

Gibraltar’s voters were asked to approve a change to the law to allow abortions within 12 weeks of pregnancy if going ahead would be riskier to the woman’s mental or physical health – such as in cases of rape or incest – or afterwards, when foetuses have fatal physical defects.

Out of some 12,343 voters, 7,656 voted “yes” and 4,520 voted “no”. When the result was announced, “yes” supporters greeted the news with loud cheers.

Gibraltar’s government would implement the new laws within 28 days, said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who supported the “yes” campaign.

Yes and No supporters
Image caption,The referendum was hotly contested

He also pledged to introduce counselling and support services “to ensure that any woman who calls at the doors of the Gibraltar Health Authority believing that she needs an abortion will have the support that she needs”.

The referendum, delayed by a year due to Covid-19, exposed deep divisions within the territory’s close-knit 32,000 population.

Some anti-abortion campaigners branded the proposed law’s wording extreme, arguing it could be interpreted as allowing abortion beyond the first 12 weeks.

“Yes” campaigner Isobel Ellul hailed the result, saying voters had made history.

“Today Gibraltar voted yes – yes for human rights, yes for women and girls, yes for trusting doctors and healthcare professionals, yes for choice, yes for compassion and empathy,” she said.

Grey line

Abortion laws

  • In Gibraltar, except in cases where it would save the mother’s life, abortion is currently punishable by life imprisonment, although this has not been used in modern times
  • In the EU, abortion on request (where the decision is made by the woman alone) is legal in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden
  • Six European countries – Malta, Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, Liechtenstein and Poland – do not allow abortion on request or have restrictive laws
  • Abortion is legal in Spain in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy
  • Abortions can legally be performed in England, Wales and Scotland before 24 weeks. In some cases – such as if the mother’s life is at risk – they can be carried out after 24 weeks
  • In Northern Ireland, abortion was decriminalised by the British parliament in 2019, though women still face challenges accessing abortions

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-57606228.amp?fbclid=IwAR3LyEXVIGrwk1bzGB3EQwwLZgGFnZ7eoi323Qw14uq1B5ixs8HEeEsqDKo

Demonstrators hold banners in an abortion rights rally outside of the Supreme Court as the justices hear oral arguments in the June Medical Services v. Russo case on March 4, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Laws passed this year include expansion to abortion access for sexual violence survivors, preventive health services, family planning for low-income and undocumented people

When Lorenne Gavish found out she was pregnant in 2019 while living in New Mexico, she felt as if she was drowning in her abusive relationship. For Gavish, who now lives in Colorado, her first decision as a mother was to wait to become one.

“Having been able to have that abortion and extract myself from that, I’ve been able to heal,” said Gavish, who now works at the nonprofit ProgressNow Colorado. “Not just keep my life together but literally heal my brain, in a way that I don’t know if I ever would’ve been able to if I had been forced to have a child with the person that had brought me harm.” 

A handful of laws passed this year by Colorado lawmakers expand access to reproductive health care, including abortion access for survivors of rape or incest, preventive services for sexually transmitted infections, and family planning for low-income and undocumented people throughout the state.THE MORNING NEWSLETTERSubscribe now.

The passage of the laws comes amid shrinking abortion access across the country, and as the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments for an abortion case from Mississippi that many reproductive rights advocates view as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade — the landmark decision that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. 

The case, which will be heard in October, concerns a Missisippi law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks, with limited exceptions. 

“States have tried to do this before, but those have all been dismissed on their face because Roe says that states can’t ban abortion, prior to a certain gestational limit,” said Jack Teter, regional director of government affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. “But if the court says, ‘Yes, Mississippi, you can ban abortion at 15 weeks,’ then they’re saying the precedent set in Roe doesn’t count anymore.”

Barriers to abortion removed for survivors of rape or incest

Abortion is already legal in Colorado, so much of the focus for lawmakers and advocates was to make reproductive health care services more accessible.

Senate Bill 21-142 ensures that survivors of incest or rape can access abortion care without being required to go to a special clinic if they are on Medicaid, the state’s low-income health insurance plan.

“There used to be only one location, and by that I mean one building, where sexual violence survivors on Medicaid could access covered abortion care,” said Teter. “It’s a hospital in the Denver metro area. So patients in rural Colorado faced enormous drives like, seven hours over a mountain range for a patient from Cortez.”

Now, patients can access care with the same providers as people with private insurance, according to Teter.

Teter was disappointed to see how many Republicans at the Colorado Capitol who voted against the bill, stressing that the partisan vote does not represent how the majority of Coloradans feel about abortion access.

“There’s never been and never will be a legitimate need to abort a baby in the womb. The act of rape and incest is a grave injustice that claims far too many people, most often women and children as victims. — Brittany Vessely, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference

“Proposition 115 was defeated in seven counties that voted for the Republican presidential candidate, so support among the voters is statewide and nonpartisan and significant,” Teter said. “So it’s a bummer that it becomes partisan in the Legislature.”

Colorado voters soundly rejected a ballot proposal in 2020 to ban abortion after 22 weeks.

Not everyone is on board with the law that will remove barriers for people to access abortion care.

Brittany Vessely, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, which represents the Catholic bishops of Colorado, testified in opposition to the bill during one of its committee hearings.

“There’s never been and never will be a legitimate need to abort a baby in the womb,” Vessely told lawmakers. “The act of rape and incest is a grave injustice that claims far too many people, most often women and children as victims.” 

“However, if a child is conceived and pregnancy (is) caused by rape and incest, then this child is just as innocent and precious as the woman who was victimized,” she added.

Contraception as a mandatory health benefit

Senate Bill 21-16 expands certain preventive health care services to include counseling, prevention and screening for a sexually transmitted infection and adds contraception as a mandatory health benefit. Teter said the law will help tighten existing laws that have caused unintended consequences, such as “surprise billing.”

“A patient might get the wrong brand of birth control, and their insurance might say, ‘Well, we cover IUDs, but we don’t cover the Mirena, for example,” he explained. “That’s jarring and can really have a tremendous impact on folks.”

The new law ensures that STI testing and prevention is available with no out-of-pocket costs and ensures that people on Medicaid can access the full spectrum of family planning services without needing to get prior authorization.

“I think we just all want to build on this momentum because now we can see like, yes, we can demand and enact real change for our communities and now that we’ve seen that, I don’t think any of us will settle for anything less next session.” — Katherine Riley, policy manager for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights

A bipartisan bill still awaiting Gov. Jared Polis’ signature would expand income eligibility for family planning Medicaid coverage. Essentially, the law gives greater access to people whose income is higher than what would qualify them for Medicaid but not enough to afford a health insurance plan through the state’s marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado.

Erin Miller, vice president of initiatives with the Colorado Children’s Campaign, a nonprofit policy and research organization that helped spearhead the bill, said that the legislation was born from a need the organization saw throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Families were losing their health insurance coverage and their jobs and were worried about whether or not they could afford and access the contraception that they wanted,” Miller said. 

Another win, according to Miller, was that lawmakers restored funding for the state’s family planning program.

“That program took a 15% cut last year,” she said. “We had to cut $3 billion in the budget in response to COVID-19, and so that funding was restored this year which was really, really good news.”

Another bill, Senate Bill 21-9, creates a contraceptive coverage program for undocumented individuals. 

Katherine Riley, policy manager for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, was excited to see so many bills pass this session that help connect the dots between reproductive justice and health care.

“I think we just all want to build on this momentum, because now we can see like, yes, we can demand and enact real change for our communities and now that we’ve seen that, I don’t think any of us will settle for anything less next session,” Riley said, who helped pass SB-9.

Colorado: a sanctuary state for reproductive rights and abortion access

For Teter, Colorado plays an especially crucial role in the national landscape of reproductive rights and access. This year, over 550 abortion-related restrictions were introduced in 47 states, 83 of which have become law, including 10 abortion bans. 

“And with SCOTUS announcing they will hear the Mississippi case — and with a majority of justices on the court now considered hostile to reproductive rights — we’re looking at a new reality for abortion access for 25 million women of reproductive age in the next year or so.” 

He said the laws Colorado did — and didn’t — pass this year help ensure that the state remains a sanctuary for people seeking reproductive health care.

“It feels like we are preparing for this very bad thing that’s about to happen, that most people don’t realize is about to happen. The Supreme Court has stood as our civil rights safety net backstop for decades, but that’s not the case anymore.” — Jack Teter, regional director of government affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains

“This is about us having our doors open for our neighbors in Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska,” he said. “People are going to have to travel to access the care they need. We had a taste of this during COVID, where we had a 1,200% increase in Texas patients when Texas shut down access during COVID.”

State Rep. Patrick Neville, a Castle Rock Republican and former minority leader, introduced a bill this session that would have made abortion a felony offense punishable by life in prison. The bill failed to make it out of its first committee.

“Of course, that’s not going to pass in Colorado, but they ran a bill to do that,” Teter said. “And (Republicans) ran the same bill in states where they have the majority. 

If the Supreme Court no longer says, ‘Hey, you can’t do that,’ then that’s when care becomes not only impossible to access in practicality, but also illegal,” he added.

When Teter thinks about the future of abortion rights, he said it feels as if he’s watching news coverage of people preparing for hurricane season.

“It feels like we are preparing for this very bad thing that’s about to happen, that most people don’t realize is about to happen,” Teter said. “The Supreme Court has stood as our civil rights safety net backstop for decades, but that’s not the case anymore.”

“It’s a paradigm shift that I don’t know we have totally wrapped our heads around,” he added.

Source: https://coloradonewsline.com/2021/06/30/as-abortion-access-shrinks-nationwide-colorado-remains-a-sanctuary-state-for-reproductive-health-care/

Ohio’s budget targets physicians providing reproductive care and schools that teach comprehensive sex ed.
 Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio signed a state budget that gives $6 million to anti-choice pregnancy centers and targets the state’s abortion clinics.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a state budget filled with attacks on reproductive rights, including a provision giving $6 million to deceptive anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” and an amendment that could force clinics in the state to close.

He signed the two-year budget late Wednesday night, keeping amendments that:

  • target physicians providing reproductive care
  • target schools teaching comprehensive sex education
  • permit physicians, hospitals, and insurance companies to deny care, including contraception, fertility treatments, gender-affirming care, and abortion care

“This basically put into statute and codified what was happening anyway,” DeWine said about the “medical conscience” clause that allows providers to deny care, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

The budget also gives $6 million in taxpayer funding to so-called crisis pregnancy centers. Separate language in the budget has the potential to force two of the state’s eight abortion clinics to close. According to the Dispatch:

Both [clinics] operate on variances—an exception to state law that requires abortion clinics have transfer agreements with local, private hospitals in case of an emergency. Changes in the budget would prevent doctors on those variances from working farther than 25 miles from the clinic or teaching at a public hospital.

These moves aren’t really a surprise. Despite DeWine being touted as a “good” Republican, abortion rights advocates see him for who he is: a hardcore conservative with extremist views on abortion.

“Ohio needs more access to health care and education, not less—and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure Ohioans are receiving the high quality care and information they deserve,” Kersha Deibel, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, said.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/07/02/ohios-new-budget-attacks-abortion-and-sex-ed/

MASON TRINCAGETTY IMAGES

Read exclusive excerpts of the Vice President’s speech to the United Nations’s Generation Equality Forum in Paris.

In 1995, at the United Nations’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton famously proclaimed, “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.” It was (somehow) a very revelatory statement at the time, and the one message that Clinton said she wanted to echo forth from the global gathering.

Decades later, at an event marking the 25th anniversary of the Beijing conference, that message will echo around the world once again as Vice President Kamala Harris declares in her virtual opening remarks at the United Nations’s Generation Equality Forum in Paris on Wednesday that she knows “without doubt, gender equality strengthens democracy.”

As the leader of the U.S. Delegation to the gathering, which runs from June 30 to July 2, Harris will make the case that democracies function best when everyone participates, and that they suffer when people—namely women—are left out.

The speech is the third time that the Vice President has addressed gender equality on the global stage; earlier this year, on International Women’s Day, Harris spoke before the European Parliament, urging nations to “build a world that works for women.” And Harris also led the U.S. Delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women last March. It was the first time in history that a vice president—or a president—led the U.S. delegation to the commission.

After the VP’s speech on Wednesday, the Biden Administration will announce several initiatives to further gender equality in three key areas: gender-based violence, economic justice, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Read exclusive excerpts of Harris’s speech below:

[…]
Around the world, democracy is in peril.
[…]
As we witnessed at the G-7 Summit just weeks ago, world leaders are uniting against the threat of autocracy. World leaders are uniting behind the principles of democracy. I believe, resolutely, that if we want to strengthen democracy, we must fight for gender equality.
[…]
Because here is the truth: Democracy is strongest when everyone participates—and it is weaker when people are left out.
[…]
So, I know, without doubt: Gender equality strengthens democracy.
[…]

Source: https://www.elle.com/culture/a36879150/kamala-harris-to-strengthen-democracy-we-must-fight-for-gender-equality/

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson called a special legislative session so lawmakers could discuss cutting Planned Parenthood from the state’s Uninsured Women’s Health Services Program.
 Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

Some Missouri Republicans attempted to redefine certain forms of birth control as abortifacients in order to ban Medicaid from paying for them.

The Missouri Senate defeated a measure that would have redefined certain forms of birth control as abortifacients in order to ban Medicaid from paying for the contraceptives.

After hours of negotiation last Friday, lawmakers dropped the anti-choice language from the tax bill and voted against an amendment to ban Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider. The senate voted early Saturday morning to renew the Federal Reimbursement Allowance, a state tax that funds Medicaid, and the measure now heads to the state house. The Kansas City Star reported:

The vote makes it much more likely the General Assembly will meet Gov. Mike Parson’s July 1 deadline to renew the tax. He has promised severe budget cuts without a bill on his desk by then.

Last week, Missouri lawmakers had tried to use the funding bill to ban Medicaid from covering emergency contraceptives like Plan B and certain forms of birth control, like intrauterine devices (IUDs). The Republican state senators claimed that using Plan B or IUDs is the same thing as getting an abortion.

This is a preposterous lie, but one that anti-choicers will keep spreading far and wide in order to achieve their goal of criminalizing the use of birth control. Make no mistake—that is their end game.

Don’t fall for it.

Contraceptives like IUDs and Plan B prevent pregnancy. An abortion terminates a pregnancy. This is not up for debate.

But do you think that mattered to Republican lawmakers in Missouri? Nope.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson even called a special legislative session so lawmakers could discuss sticking it to poor people by cutting Planned Parenthood from the state’s Uninsured Women’s Health Services Program and prohibiting Medicaid from covering IUDs and Plan B.

How? By pretending they’re abortifacients.

Birth control methods like IUDs are not abortifacients. Emergency contraceptives like Plan B aren’t either.

Just ask Imani Gandy, Rewire News Group‘s senior editor for law and policy, who wrote back in 2014:

Contraceptives prevent pregnancy, abortifacients terminate a pregnancy, and a pregnancy begins at implantation. So contraceptives by definition are not abortifacients because they prevent a pregnancy; if they work, there is no pregnancy to be terminated.

And:

Birth control benefit opponents obfuscate basic concepts about reproduction and women’s health. They attempt to turn a discussion about when pregnancy begins—and therefore when and how a pregnancy can be terminated—into a discussion about when life begins.

This is hardly the first time conservatives have argued that certain birth control methods should be banned or restricted because they cause abortion.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz infamously believes that all kinds of birth control cause abortion. Gandy wrote in 2015:

At last year’s Value Voters Summit, where Ted Cruz opened his mouth and a lot of words that made no sense fell out, Ted Cruz repeatedly referred to birth control as “abortion-inducing.” At one point, Ted Cruz even claimed that the government is trying to force Catholic nuns to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, which is as hilarious as it is untrue. Cruz was referring to the Little Sisters of the Poor, a bunch of nuns who filed a lawsuit about the compromise the Obama administration entered into in order to shut up some of the birth control benefit detractors. (Spoiler Alert! The compromise didn’t work and, in fact, probably made things worse because the Religious Right is unreasonable and cannot be appeased.)

And just last week, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene argued that federal funding for Plan B amounted to paying for abortion, parroting the same misinformation that’s being used in Missouri.

Even if these restrictions only applied to abortifacients, they would be unnecessary and harmful. But it’s important to remember anti-choice politicians aren’t just coming for abortion.

Because it’s not really about abortion: It’s about restricting people’s autonomy.

It’s rare that reproductive rights advocates get to celebrate a win like this, but it’s an important reminder that these battles can sometimes be won, even in Republican-dominated states like Missouri.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/06/28/missouri-lawmakers-pretended-iuds-cause-abortion-they-lost/

« Previous PageNext Page »