Reproductive Rights

Virginia House Takes the War on Women to a New Level

The Virginia House yesterday passed two anti-choice measures that would be among the most extreme in the nation, including one that could put birth control at risk and another that requires that women seeking an abortion undergo an extremely invasive procedure without their consent.

The Republican-dominated House passed a “personhood” bill, similar to the one overwhelmingly rejected by Mississippi voters last year, that could put the most common types of birth control at risk. It also passed a requirement that all women seeking an abortion first be subjected to an ultrasound, even if medically unnecessary. Women who are too early in their term for an external ultrasound to be effective – roughly 88 percent of those seeking abortions -- would be required to undergo an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound.

When a Democratic lawmaker proposed an amendment requiring a woman’s consent for these procedures, it was voted down.

The Virginia bills take the War on Women to a new level. Requiring women to undergo an unnecessary and invasive procedure to please politicians is oppressive and regressive. One Houston Chronicle columnist found that a similar bill in Texas meets the state’s definition of sexual assault: “an offense in which a person intentionally or knowingly causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person's consent.”

And Texas and Virginia aren’t the only ones – Iowa’s legislature is also considering a similar mandatory ultrasound bill.

These states aren’t just violating women’s rights – they’re violating women. The fact that this is happening in the U.S. in the 21st century is mind-boggling.


 

PFAW

Victory for American Women, But the Fight’s Not Over

In a big victory for American women, the White House today ensured that  women will have access to free contraception in their insurance plans while it continued to protect religious liberty interests.

While today’s news is welcome, what’s stunning is that the importance of contraception for women’s health is still up for debate.

Last month, Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry told a conservative talk show host that contraception is “unrelated to the basic needs of health care” – probably news to the 99 percent of American women who use or have used birth control.

While Fortenberry put it more bluntly than most, his point is not unusual on the Right. Today at the Conservative Political Action Conference, presidential candidate Rick Santorum claimed that insurance shouldn’t pay for contraception at all, saying contraceptives are “things that are not really things you need insurance for.”

Even Mitt Romney, trying to burnish his right-wing credentials, claimed that efforts to make sure all American women have access to affordable contraception constituted an effort by “liberals across the country ... to impose their will on religious organizations and on the population at large.”

But this war on contraception is nothing new. As PFAW president Michael Keegan pointed out last week, both Romney and Santorum supported a House measure last year that would have eliminated federal funding to Planned Parenthood’s efforts to bring affordable contraception and reproductive health services to a million and a half American women. What’s more, the bill that the Planned Parenthood provision was added to would have eliminated the federal government’s entire reproductive health program.

Pundits are already rushing to score political winners and losers in the decision, but the real accomplishment in policy announced today is that it does right by two important values: protecting women’s health and respecting religious freedom.

As long as we’re still having a national conversation about whether women should have the same access to preventative care as men, the fight is far from over.
 

PFAW

Republicans Set to Deny Preventative Healthcare to Women

This week, the House and Senate plan to vote on the Pence Amendment, which would end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, putting the health and safety of millions of Americans at stake.

PFAW Condemns House Republicans’ Ban on Local Support for Women’s Health

In the budget deal reached last week, the GOP didn’t only win huge tax cuts for their corporate supporters and the super-rich; they also used the impending government shutdown as leverage to ban local support for women’s health in Washington, DC.

House-Passes Devastating Amendment in Latest Attack in the GOP's War on Women

Moments ago, the House passed an amendment from Rep. Mike Pence that would eliminate all federal funding to Planned Parenthood clinics, which provide critical health services to millions of women each year.

Backlash Against SD Anti-Choice Bill Proves Voters Want Jobs, Not Attacks on Women

A proposed bill in South Dakota that would have classified murders of abortion doctors as “justifiable homicide” has been shelved after a national outcry, according to news reports. The bill, the latest in a series of attacks on women from state and federal lawmakers, drew outrage from pro-choice groups, including People For the American Way.

Silencing Women, Threatening Their Rights: Attacks on Choice and Preventive Care

January 22, 2011 marked the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This landmark ruling, along with the earlier Griswold v. Connecticut, recognized a constitutional right to privacy and protected a woman's right to make reproductive decisions based on her own life, health, and conscience. Ensuring that women are trusted to make those decisions is a cause that stills needs our support all these years later. Choice and preventive care are once again under siege in Congress.

PFAW Condemns Abortion Provider Murder Bill

South Dakota’s House of Representatives is expected to vote soon on a bill that would legalize the killing of abortion providers. The bill would expand the state’s definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings meant to protect the life of a fetus.

House GOP Playing Politics With Women’s Health

In a shameless attempt to stir up a Right Wing “culture war,” House Republicans are drafting a continuing resolution that would include the removal of all Title X family planning funds from the federal budget.

Deceptive Video ‘Sting’ Attacking Planned Parenthood: Dishonest Hit Job is Part of Religious Right’s Campaign to Deny Women Access to Reproductive Health Care

The current wave of political attacks on Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of reproductive health care for women, is the latest example of a now-familiar kind of coordinated propaganda campaign waged by right-wing activist groups, far-right pundits and media outlets, and politicians willing to collaborate in promoting false information for political purposes.

Video of Bob Marshall Proves He Said What He Meant, Meant What He Said

Watch Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall claim at an anti-Planned Parenthood press conference that disabled children are God's punishment for abortion:

After his remarks set off a national controversy, Marshall tried to claim that he had somehow been misunderstood:

A story by Capital News Service regarding my remarks at a recent press conference opposing taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood conveyed the impression that I believe disabled children are a punishment for prior abortions. No one who knows me or my record would imagine that I believe or intended to communicate such an offensive notion[.] I regret any misimpression my poorly chosen words may have created[.]

But the video speaks for itself. Marshall explicitly stated that he believes God punishes women who have abortions by giving them disabled children. And then he backed up his claim with what he evidently considered to be evidence (and the gentleman to his left nodded in agreement).

Marshall is entitled to his offensive views, but he should not run from them.

It's worth noting that Marshall has a history of saying offensive things – or being “misinterpreted.”

He said this about abortion in the case of rape: "[T]he woman becomes a sin-bearer of the crime, because the right of a child predominates over the embarrassment of the woman."

And he said this about contraception: "[W]e have no business passing this garbage out and making these co-eds chemical Love Canals for these frat house playboys in Virginia."

Marshall was not the only one at last week’s press conference to say something completely ridiculous and offensive, or as Marshall calls it – creating a “misimpression.”

Rev. Joe Ellison said he agrees with Pat Robertson’s comments that Haitians brought the recent devastating earthquake on themselves by striking a deal with the Devil and practicing voodoo:

From a spiritual standpoint, we think the Dr. Robertson was on target about Haiti, in the past, with voodoo. And we believe in the Bible that the practice of voodoo is a sin, and what caused the nation to suffer. Those who read the Bible and study the history know that what Dr. Robertson said was the truth.

And let’s remember. These guys aren’t just some sideshow attraction in Virginia’s state capital. They hold sway with top Virginia Republicans, including Gov. Bob McDonnell, and are making gains in their war on the reproductive rights of Virginia women.

Extreme Anti-Choice Measure Voted Down in Senate

The Senate today voted down a restrictive anti-choice amendment to health care reform legislation. The amendment, which would have prohibited health insurance plans that participate in the new exchange from providing full reproductive health benefits to millions of American women, was modeled on language in the House bill proposed by Representatives Bart Stupak and Joseph Pitts.

Keep Stupak Amendment Out of Senate Health Care Bill

In support of a rally held today to oppose the inclusion of restrictive anti-choice language in the Senate health care bill, People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan said, "Health care reform is a tremendously important issue for the Senate to be considering, and no one should attempt to hold it hostage in an effort to deny women a meaningful right to reproductive choice."

Right Wing Follows Deceptive Script On Supreme Court

A day after news of Justice Souter's planned resignation broke in the news, "dozens" of right-wing leaders representing more than 60 groups got together for a strategy call organized in part by the Judicial Confirmation Network to get everyone fired up and on message. All you need to know about the credibility of this campaign's leaders, and the credibility of their evaluations of potential nominees, is contained in this one sentence from the Judicial Confirmation Network's Wendy Long: "The current Supreme Court is a liberal, judicial activist court."

McCain Brags about His Support of Bush Judges

In response to a question today in Lima, OH, Senator John McCain turned the subject to the Supreme Court and bragged about his support of George W. Bush's nominees to the Supreme Court. In response, People For the American Way president Kathryn Kolbert said, "It's clear that John McCain is trying to polish his anti-choice credentials by highlighting his support for George W. Bush's judges."

“Independent” John Sununu Rubberstamped 100% of George Bush’s Right-Wing Judges

In New Hampshire, the state Republican Party attempted to defend Senator John Sununu’s support of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito by calling Sununu “an independent voice for New Hampshire.” People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert said, “If John Sununu is an independent voice, why has he voted for every single one of President Bush’s most extreme judicial nominees? On the most important votes he’s taken confirming nominees to lifetime seats on the federal bench, he’s voted in lockstep with George W. Bush. He’s certainly distinguished himself as one of President Bush’s most loyal allies; he can’t reasonably be called ‘independent.’”

Why Is Norm Coleman so Proud of Putting John Roberts on the Supreme Court?

After Senator Norm Coleman bragged to the Minnesota GOP convention about the supposedly crucial role he played in winning confirmation for Chief Justice John Roberts, People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert said “It’s hard to believe that Norm Coleman is actually taking credit for putting Chief Justice Roberts on the Supreme Court. Under Roberts, the Supreme Court has voted to: deny equal pay to a woman who was paid less than the men in her factory, strike down voluntary integration plans for public schools that wanted to bring black and white students together, uphold a ban on an abortion procedure with no exception for the health of the woman, and deny free speech protections to internal government whistle-blowers.

Supreme Court End-of-Term Analysis: 2005-06 Term

The 2005-06 term was clearly a period of transition for the Supreme Court, as Chief Justice Roberts replaced Chief Justice Rehnquist, and two justices in a sense replaced Justice O’Connor Justice Alito took her seat on the Court while Justice Kennedy replaced her as the “swing” vote in a number of closely divided cases. And while a relatively large number of the Court’s decisions this term were unanimous (generally where the Court was able to agree on a narrow approach and avoid divisive issues as in the New Hampshire abortion case), the new justices clearly pushed the Court towards the right in several important, closely divided cases.
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