Posts tagged "Women's Health"

Today, crass anti-choice extremist shitstain Dana Loesch is bullying #Rally4MOWomen attendees for simply exercising their 1st Amendment right to express their opinions on how extreme anti-abortion policies being proposed are affecting Missouri women.





















Typical from someone who is a habitual disgrace to women in this country.

Michelle Malkin’s propaganda hive Twitchy piles on, which Loesch retweeted:











You, Dana, are an ignorant bully.


It’s people like you that want to take away the right to make the choice to have an abortion.

(cross-posted from DanaBusted.blogspot.com)

H/T: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

thepoliticalfreakshow:

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from two for-profit companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialities, which are fighting for the right to withhold insurance coverage for contraception, saying that it conflicts with their religious beliefs. They argue they should be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that birth control be covered by health insurance — although depending on how the justices rule, companies could be allowed to deny any type of health service based on a religious objection.

But access to contraception has drastically improved the economy and helped businesses themselves. Without it, millions fewer women would be in our workforce.

In an influential study, Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz showed that access to the pill encouraged women to invest in education and training without the fear of having to interrupt them due to unwanted pregnancy. That allowed them to pursue careers. “Because up-front, time-intensive career investments are difficult for women with child care responsibilities, the pill encouraged women’s careers by virtually eliminating the risk of pregnancy,” they write. It also changed the marriage market by decoupling sex and marriage and therefore lowing the cost of delaying marriage, which made career women more attractive mates.

The numbers are striking. Access to the pill accounted for more than 30 percent in the increase of women holding jobs in skilled professions between 1970 and 1990. It also significantly increased how much time women were able to spend working: the pill accounted for at least 15 percent of the increase in hours worked for women between 16 and 30 in the same time frame, and women who were directly affected by the increase in access after the 1965 Griswold v Connecticut case worked about two to three weeks more per year compared to those who couldn’t get it.

These changes swelled the workforce: In 1950, just 18 million were working, but by the 1980s, after using contraception had become normalized, 60 percentof women of reproductive age were employed. This coincided with a falling birthrate, which dropped from 118 births per 1,000 women in the 1950s to 68 per 1,000 in the 1980s, a fall of almost 75 percent.

That has had a big effect on businesses, which now have a pool of workers with triple the number of women in it from which they can hire. And the economy has benefitted enormously — it would be 25 percent smaller if women hadn’t entered in the workforce in such great numbers.

But contraception costs money, particularly without insurance coverage. A third of women say they have struggled to afford birth control at some point, which rises to 55 percent for younger women. Little wonder when it can cost more than $1,000 a year. Under the Affordable Care Act, however, insurance will have to cover it without requiring a co-pay. But if Hobby Lobby gets its way, the women among its 14,000-person workforce may struggle to afford it. That could have serious ramifications for their ability to show up to work.

Covering contraception benefits businesses in another key way: it’s cheaper. Covering prescription contraception in employee health benefits can save money given the high costs of pregnancy and childbirth. The National Business Group on Health estimates failing to cover it can cost an employer 15 to 17 percent more.

Source: Bryce Covert for ThinkProgress

h/t: Dr. Tania Basu at RH Reality Check

rhrealitycheck

As I said before, if the ruling at SCOTUS goes Hobby Lobby's way in June (most likely the final week or the 30th), it'll be a scary preposition for America.

h/t: Rev. Harry Knox and Jill C. Morrison at HuffPost Religion

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW 

Image Credit: Planned Parenthood Action’s Facebook Page. [ ppaction ]

I proudly stand with the women who use birth control, NOT Hobby Lobby.

h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Next week, the Supreme Court will take up the issue of contraceptive coverage, hearing arguments in a closely-watched lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. Two for-profit companies — the craft chain Hobby Lobby and the furniture-making company Conestoga Wood Specialties — are fighting for their right to withhold insurance coverage for certain types of contraceptive methods based on their religious beliefs. But there’s actually much more at stake than prescription drug coverage.

The two plaintiffs in these cases object not just to covering specific types of birth control, but also to providing counseling about that birth control. In Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit, for instance, the company states that it does not want to follow the Obamacare provision that forces employers to “provide health insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, as well as related education and counseling.”

The media coverage surrounding the upcoming challenges has mainly focused on the first part of that argument, as reproductive rights advocates point out that women need access to affordable contraceptive methods regardless of their boss’ personal beliefs about birth control. However, the second part threatens to have incredibly far-reaching ramifications for women and doctors in this country, too. Essentially, if Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood are successful, they’ll win the right to refuse to extend coverage for doctor’s visits that include discussion about certain forms of contraception, like IUDs or the morning after pill.

“It’s frankly a rather radical idea — the idea that someone can say that if your visit to your doctor is going to receive payment from your insurance company, then your doctor can’t talk to you about certain subjects,” Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, explained in an interview with ThinkProgress. “Counseling and education about contraception has been a basic part of a medical visit forever, even before the methods themselves were covered. Before we had prescription drug coverage, we certainly had coverage for the visit to your doctor, and there were never any limitations about what you could talk to your doctor about.”

And particularly when it comes to contraceptive counseling, simply skipping over certain methods isn’t an option. In order to obtain informed consent from their patients, doctors are obligated to explain the full range of optionsavailable.

According to Clare Coleman, the president and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), informed consent is the “bedrock” of medical ethics. “Coverage of counseling is essential. It’s a conversation about intention and life stage as much as it’s a conversation about the actual prescription — in family planning, we have to meet the patient where she is, and find the method that’s right for her,” Coleman told ThinkProgress. “That conversation needs to be careful and detailed before the patient agrees to any medical intervention.”

So, since many doctors wouldn’t feel comfortable limiting the contraceptive options that they tell their patients about, this could force the employees who work for companies like Hobby Lobby to make a difficult choice. If they want their doctor’s visit to be covered by their insurance company, they’ll have to avoid talking about birth control altogether. Or, if they do want to discuss contraception, they’ll have to pay for the visit out of their own pocket. They’ll essentially have to choose between a potential financial burden or a potential health burden.

Or they may not understand what’s at stake in the first place. Coleman pointed out that, in a scenario where bosses are allowed to refuse to cover contraceptive counseling, their employees might not realize those restrictions exist. “Having a white card in your wallet does not mean you understand how your insurance works,” she noted. “The patient will not necessarily come armed with this information.”

To make matters more complicated, companies that withhold coverage for some types of services often resist full disclosure. They may not explain to their workers exactly what their plan excludes, or provide them with a referral to access those services elsewhere.

“It’s an incredible devaluing of the insurance that you as an employee work for,” Sonfield, who recently published a policy review of the central arguments in the upcoming Supreme Court challenges, pointed out. “This is telling you that you can’t use your compensation — your own benefits that you have earned — in a way that your boss objects to. And that is a frightening road for us to be going down, as a society.”

Ultimately, insurance coverage for preventative care, like contraceptive services and regular doctor’s visits, is a benefit that employees earn through the hours that they put in to their jobs. Making employees pay for the full cost of their birth control and their doctor’s visits ends up shifting more insurance costs onto them. It’s somewhat analogous to a salary cut.

And birth control isn’t the only type of medical care that some Americans object to on religious grounds. There are some groups who are opposed to modern health services like vaccinations, blood transfusions, or mental health care. If these upcoming legal challenges are successful, that could open the door for employers to restrict their workers’ coverage for doctors’ visits that include discussion of those topics, too. It’s a slippery slope.

Nonetheless, this particular issue hasn’t received very much attention.

“They’ve really downplayed this aspect of their case. I think it’s gotten buried,” Sonfield told ThinkProgress. “I think the plaintiffs in these cases, along with their supporters, have done an excellent job of crafting the messaging and shaping the debate, and it’s been playing out on their grounds.”

ThinkProgress reached out to Hobby Lobby’s legal counsel, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, to confirm the company’s opposition to certain types of contraceptive counseling and ask how this type of objection would be implemented in practice. The communications department refused to comment.

From Sonfield’s perspective, the issue of contraceptive counseling proves that some of the central claims about employers’ religious liberty — namely, that practicing their deeply-held religious beliefs isn’t about infringing on their workers’ freedoms — just aren’t accurate. “We often see statements that this case is not trying to interfere in women’s choices, and is not trying to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, because it’s just about the employer’s involvement. That’s just patently not true.”

“Your employer shouldn’t be able to intercede in the medical decisions that are right for you,” Coleman noted.

Source: Tara Culp Ressler for ThinkProgress

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Abortion opponents are confident that they’ve found a winning strategy in 20-week bans. In January, at the Republican National Committee’s annual meeting, the group approved a new “pro-life resolution” encouraging GOP candidates to speak out against abortion rights. That resolution cited 20-week bans as one restriction that’s politically advantageous for Republicans, since it tends to poll better with the American public.

By some measures, they’re right. This policy — often construed as a “fetal pain ban,” since it’s based on the scientifically inaccurate claim that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks of pregnancy — is picking up steam on a legislative level. Ten states already have 20-week bans on the books, and several lawmakers introduced new fetal pain bills at the beginning of this year. This past weekend, West Virginia became the first Democratic-controlled state to pass a 20-week ban, and it’s not yet clear whether the state’s Democratic governor is going to block it. Abortion opponents are now able to claim that this is an issue with bipartisan support.

The push to cut off access to later abortion services has always relied on framing 20-week bans as moderate and popular. This has been working really well for the anti-choice community, which is able to capitalize on emotional outrage about “fetal pain” and come across as entirely willing to compromise. Lila Rose, the president of the right-wing group Live Action, often points out that 20 is exactly half of a full-term 40 week pregnancy, so it’s a perfect middle ground.

But don’t be fooled. The political momentum for 20-week bans isn’t actually about compromising, or about adhering to a specific deadline that will prevent fetuses from feeling pain. It’s really about finding an initial foothold to chip away at Roe v. Wade, and then continuing to move the goal posts. It’s the first step in a larger strategy to cut off legal abortion access altogether, cloaked under the guise of a “moderate” policy.

For evidence, look no further than what’s currently going on in Mississippi. Lawmakers there are trying to pass a 20-week ban — but this week, they made a last-minute change that actually transforms the bill into an 18-week ban.

Lawmakers moved up the cut-off point by using a new way to define pregnancy. Abortion restrictions typically calculate gestational age beginning when a fertilized egg implants on the uterine wall, which is the medical and scientific definition of pregnancy. Mississippi’s new bill chooses to start counting from the end of the woman’s last menstrual period. There’s nothing wrong with that in theory. But in the context of an abortion ban, that ends up shaving off about two weeks from the legally acceptable window to terminate a pregnancy.

“It goes far beyond similar legislation in neighboring states,” Felicia Brown-Williams, the director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, said in a statement regarding Mississippi’s proposed ban. “Legislators should stop wasting taxpayer time and money by pushing bills that could easily end in litigation.”

Mississippi is modeling the new legislation after a similar law in Arizona, which is the only state so far that’s passed a fetal pain ban outlawing abortion two weeks earlier than usual. Last May, Arizona’s restrictive ban was permanently struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for overstepping the legal protections in Roe v. Wade. And at the beginning of this year, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that decision by refusing to review the Ninth Circuit’s ruling. The lawmakers in Mississippi are likely counting on the fact that their state is under the jurisdiction of a much more conservative circuit court, which recently upheld an extremely restrictive abortion law in Texas that’s forcing dozens of clinics to close.

So why does all of this matter, and what does it say about the larger strategy behind later abortion bans? It proves that the states enacting 20-week bans aren’t really interested in a good faith effort to accomplish what they claim they care about, which is preventing women from exercising their abortion rights after a specific point that “causes pain” to their fetus. In fact, there’s no good policy justification for this type of restriction at all.

First of all, the arbitrary cut-off clearly doesn’t matter to abortion opponents — since there’sno real scientific evidence to support the notion of fetal pain at 20 weeks, sneaking in an 18-week ban under the same specious logic is even better. On top of that, it’s important to remember that cutting off later abortion access doesn’t even have a real impact on abortion opponents’ stated goal of lowering the abortion rate. Abortions after 20 weeks are already extremely rare, representing just 1.5 percent of all abortions nationwide. This is especially stark in Mississippi, since the state’s sole abortion clinic doesn’t even perform abortions after 16 weeks in the first place — this is essentially a meaningless ban.

But addressing a real issue or having a real impact isn’t the point. Instead, this policy simply allows Republicans to have a convenient talking point to make the case that Americans support limiting abortion rights. Unfortunately, that often comes at the expense of targeting women who are making heartbreaking decisions about a pregnancy that’s gone terribly wrong. A “fetal pain ban” or a “late-term abortion ban” is a politically popular way of defining a policy that can force women to carry doomed pregnancies to term.

Amanda Allen, the state legislative counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights — one of the groups that successfully litigated against Arizona’s ban — told ThinkProgress that all fetal pain bans are “as cruel as they are unconstitutional.” That’s because they typically have very narrow medical exceptions that prevent women from terminating a pregnancy even after they’ve discovered serious health issues.

“When states try to ban abortion earlier in pregnancy, they’re really banning it before the time that women can receive critical prenatal care,” Allen pointed out. “Now that it looks like Mississippi is following in Arizona’s footsteps with this bill, lawmakers have added all these bogus findings about why this legislation is necessary for women’s health. But of course, it’s actually directly the opposite — it could force women to continue their pregnancies until a potential health issue becomes life-threatening.”

But lawmakers typically aren’t persuaded by that point. Indeed, when Arizona was arguing in favor of its restrictive ban, lawyers tried to make the case that fatal fetal birth defects are simply the “woman’s problem.”

The American people, on the other hand, actually are sympathetic to the emotional context about later abortion care. When voters realize why women may need a later abortion, they oppose cutting off access to that type of reproductive health care. This has been put to the test. Last year, when abortion opponents put a proposed 20-week ban up for a popular vote in Albuquerque, voters resoundingly rejected it for exactly this reason.

Nonetheless, this incremental strategy to undermine Roe continues to be extremely successful in state legislatures across the country. Anti-choice politicians aren’t showing any signs of stopping the onslaught of 20-week abortion bills.

“We’re continuing to see these relentless attacks from politicians. Right now, I’m tracking 12 different 20-week bans that have either been introduced this year or carried over from last session, and three of those are moving,” Allen noted. “I think we need to ask why lawmakers are so insistent on spending their time passing unconstitutional bills when states like Mississippi have some of the highest rates of child poverty and women living in poverty.”

Source: Tara Culp-Ressler for ThinkProgress

Rachel Maddow: Michigan is ‘way more insane than anyone nationally gives them credit for’ (via Raw Story )

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow weighed in on Michigan’s “rape insurance” law on Wednesday, one night before it takes effect, saying it is just one example of state lawmakers’ anti-woman stance. “Michigan, you are amazing,” Maddow said. “I continue…



 

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

Lawmakers in South Dakota are beginning to take the first steps to advance a stringent law that could end up banning abortions after just seven weeks of pregnancy. If it becomes law, it will be the second harshest ban in the nation — right behind the state’s neighbor, North Dakota, which passed a six-week abortion ban last year that’s currently blocked from taking effect.

The legislation in question, House Bill 1241, doesn’t explicitly ban abortions at a certain point in a pregnancy. Instead, it uses vague and biased language to describe the abortion procedure in a way that could have serious consequences for the doctors in the state.

HB 1241 seeks to “prohibit the dismemberment or decapitation of certain living unborn children.” The doctors who violate the proposed law would be charged with a Class 2 felony, and could face up to 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. According to the Republican lawmaker who introduced the measure, state Rep. Isaac Latterell, the bill is intended to target certain types of later abortion procedures after 16 weeks of pregnancy that involve dilation and evacuation.

“It just makes clear that a certain procedure that is totally horrific and gruesome to any reasonable person would not be an acceptable method of ending a child’s life, and that is to dismember or decapitate a living, unborn child,” Latterell explained to the Argus Leader.

However, as RH Reality Check reports, there aren’t any clinics in South Dakota that perform those type of later abortions in the first place. There’s only one abortion clinic in the state, and it offers surgical abortion procedures up to 13 weeks of pregnancy. The patients who require the type of later abortion care that Latterell is concerned about are referred to other states. But that doesn’t mean HB 1241 wouldn’t have any impact. The measure’s vague language would actually target the abortion doctors who are providing earlier procedures, because they may be too worried about the potential legal ramifications of ending a pregnancy.

[…]

And this type of language about abortion — construing it as “dismemberment or decapitation” — is specifically intended to give the impression that all abortion procedures are barbaric and all abortion providers are monsters. In fact, nearly 90 percent of abortions occur in the first trimester and aren’t analogous to the scene that HB 1241 conjures up. Nonetheless, the anti-choice community repeatedly accuses Planned Parenthood of committing “infanticide,” or uses terms like “post-birth abortion” and “partial-birth abortion” to evoke gruesome images. And after illegal abortion provider Kermit Gosnell’s crimes came to light, the right-wing media has done everything in its power to misconstrue safe and legal clinics as carrying on Gosnell’s work.

HB 1241 has been referred to South Dakota’s Health and Human Services Committee. And lawmakers in the state have recently been trying to restrict abortion in other ways, too — this week, a legislative panel advanced a different abortion bill that would ban women from ending a pregnancy based on the fetus’ gender, another requirement that would be difficult for doctors to enforce.

Terrible law, South Dakota.