Birth Control

Really? Updated College Sexual Assault Prevention Guidelines are Federal Overreach?

by Zach Hudson, NSDP Communications Director

Remember Todd Akin, the GOP Senate candidate in Missouri who talked about “legitimate rape?”  Akin’s comments were ignorant, insensitive, and out-of-touch.  Which is why we were disappointed Nevada Republicans seem to be taking their cues on women’s health from Todd Akin.

Last week, the Republican nominee for Nevada Controller, Ron Knecht, wrote an op-ed where he essentially said new guidelines to prevent sexual assault on college campuses are an example of federal overreach.  He even blamed programs to prevent sexual assault for the increase in college tuition!

Let’s make sure Republicans like this never get elected to office – join Democrat Andrew Martin’s campaign for Controller by clicking here today.

Ron Knecht’s comments were moronic, but unfortunately not surprising.  Whether it’s Sen. Dean Heller’s support for restricting access to contraception, Rep. Joe Heck’s votes to ban abortion for rape victims and to weaken the Violence Against Women Act, or Nevada Republican Senate Leader, and former Tom DeLay operative, Michael Roberson, supporting “personhood” measures which could outlaw forms of birth control, Nevada Republicans time and time again demonstrate they are completely clueless when it comes to women’s health.

Fortunately, Nevadans have a clear choice in the election for State Controller.  While Ron Knecht is focused on criticizing programs to help sexual assault victims, Democratic nominee Andrew Martin will focus on managing the state’s finances.

Click here to join Andrew’s campaign and tell Nevada Republicans when it comes to women’s health decisions, #ItsNotUpToThem.

NOT My Boss’s Business!

NotMyBossBusiness

Corporate owners are NOT entitled to SUPER-CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS that they can wield in a discriminatory fashion against their employees. It’s time to end this culture war once and for all in November. We, as Democrats, need to encourage everybody we know to go to the polls and vote for folks who will actively work for the benefit of not just men, but women too.  If we don’t vote and if we don’t convince our Independent and Non-Partisan friends to vote with us, we’ll have nothing but gridlock in Washington, one government shutdown after another and the introduction of second-class citizenship for women.

Corporate Rights Trump Women’s Health in Hobby Lobby Ruling

‘This ruling goes out of its way to declare that discrimination against women isn’t discrimination.’

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer at Common Dreams

SCOTUS5

Defenders of women’s health and reproductive freedom are reacting with anger to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday which ruled that an employer with religious objection can opt out of providing contraception coverage to their employees under the Affordable Care Act.

Writing for the majority side of the 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Justice Samuel Alito argued that the “the HHS mandate demands that they engage in conduct that seriously violates [employers’] religious beliefs.”

Rights advocates were quick to condemn the court’s decision.

“Today’s decision from five male justices is a direct attack on women and our fundamental rights. This ruling goes out of its way to declare that discrimination against women isn’t discrimination,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

“Allowing bosses this much control over the health-care decisions of their employees is a slippery slope with no end,” Hogue continued. “Every American could potentially be affected by this far-reaching and shocking decision that allows bosses to reach beyond the boardroom and into their employees’ bedrooms. The majority claims that its ruling is limited, but that logic doesn’t hold up. Today it’s birth control; tomorrow it could be any personal medical decision, from starting a family to getting life-saving vaccinations or blood transfusions.”

Ninety-nine percent of sexually active women in the U.S. use birth control for a variety of health reasons, according to research by women’s health organizations.

“The fact of the matter is that birth control is a wildly popular and medically necessary part of women’s health care,” said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, a national women’s advocacy organization.Chaudhary adds that despite it’s clear necessity for the reproductive health of the majority of women, one in three women have struggled at some point to afford birth control.

Monday’s ruling focuses specifically on companies that are “closely-held,” which analysts report covers over 90 percent of businesses in the United States.

The dissenting opinion, penned by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and supported by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and mostly joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, acknowledges that the decision was of “startling breadth” and said that it allows companies to “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The opinion was based largely on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which provides that a law that burdens a person’s religious beliefs must be justified by a compelling government interest.

“There is an overriding interest, I believe, in keeping the courts ‘out of the business of evaluating the relative merits of differing religious claims,'” Ginsburg adds, concluding: “The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Echoing Ginsburg’s concern, Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State called the ruling “a double-edged disaster,” saying it “conjures up fake religious freedom rights for corporations while being blind to the importance of birth control to America’s working women.”

Similar reactions were expressed on Twitter following the news. Summarizing the crux of the decision, NBC producer Jamil Smith wrote:

The Hobby Lobby decision means that in terms of personhood, corporations > women. And Christianity > everyone else.

— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) June 30, 2014

Others, joining Ginsburg’s outrage that now “legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs” would be denied essential health coverage, expressed their opinions under the banner “#jointhedissent.”

#jointhedissent Tweets

The majority opinion leaves open the possibility that the federal government can cover the cost of contraceptives for women whose employers opt out, leaving many to look to the Obama administration for their next move.

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Related Posts:

Will Bosses be Able to Deny Women Birth Control?

Corporations are a legal construction, they are NOT “people” and as such do NOT have the same rights as individual citizens.  But, that doesn’t matter to corporate CEOs who are apparently practicers of far right religious zealotry.  To them, it’s not sufficient to sequentially discriminate against individual citizens, they now want the right to discriminate against an entire class of citizens, women, based on the CEO’s religious zealotry.  This has to stop!

If SCOTUS strikes the provision in ACA requiring employer policies to assure accessibility to contraception, is that the line they’ll draw?  Or, what happens when the next religious zealot decides it’s against his religion to provide ANY healthcare whatsoever and that they should pray the sickness away instead.  Will they rule in favor of that CEO’s views as well?

Republicans can use their revisionist history and scream as loud as they want, how this is a “christian” nation and how our founders intended to create a nation built upon those tenets, but that’s simply NOT the case. People migrated to the Americas to escape the religious discrimination and deadly purges present in Europe each time leadership shifted.  At the time of our nation’s founding there were multiple religious groups who could have vied for the “official religion” yet that’s not what happened.  Instead, our founding fathers created a “secular” nation with no official religion and no religious tests for its leadership. Instead they set into law, the tenet of religious freedom for all “men” (now interpreted for the last century to be a generic interpretation for both men and women).

Just as each individual President of  the United States of America is denied the ability to put his religion above the law and impose his religious beliefs on the citizens of this nation, NO corporate CEO should be able to put his religion above the law and discriminate against U.S. citizens he’s hired to work in various roles within his U.S. incorporated business.

If the Supreme Court chooses to bestow religious rights on legal entities, corporations, it will set the stage for our next civil war — deciding which religious entity will be our nation’s official religion.  So just like we’re seeing all that religious strife in the Middle East amongst the various religious Muslim sects, this could lead to religious strife across our nation.

Personally, I prefer a secular nation where people have constitutional rights and where corporations have rights to conduct business throughout out nation, but which are not afforded the exact same constitutional rights afforded the actual people of this nation.

NARAL Pro-Choice America on Supreme Court Decision to Hear Case on Contraception Coverage 

Today, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in two cases related to the contraception benefit in the Affordable Care Act: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. NARAL Pro-Choice America released the following statement from President Ilyse Hogue:

“While most people agree this much ado about birth control is a waste of time that could be spent on more pressing issues in our country, we’re pleased that the Supreme Court will finally lay to rest the question of whether women’s bosses get to decide if we deserve contraceptive coverage. That this reflects an underlying obsession with controlling women’s lives seems obvious when you observe that the enemies of the new law are not pushing to deny men access to Viagra or any other number of similar medical requests covered by insurance.

“Obviously, we hope the court upholds existing rulings that – in a country where over 99 percent of women report using birth control at some point in our lives – bosses have no business imposing their own politics on their employees’ health and decisions. If we start with birth control, will bosses next get to decide whether or not we get our children vaccinated? Or whether we can use treatments from stem cell research for life-threatening diseases? Allowing this intrusion into personal decisions by their employers opens a door that won’t easily be shut.” 

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21 Things Republicans Have Demanded In Exchange For Not Shutting Down The Government Or Tanking The Global Economy

boehner

BY JUDD LEGUM ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

Since the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2011, they have repeatedly attempted to use the prospect of a government shutdown or a debt default as leverage. A shutdown would furlough close to a million federal workers and cut off essential services for millions more Americans, while a default on U.S. debt, even according to Speaker John Boehner, could devastate the global economy. While the recent debate has focused on Obamacare, that is just the latest in a series of demands made by Republicans. The following is a list of things that have been, at various times, demanded by Republicans under threat of a government shutdown or default:

1. A balanced budget amendment [Link]

2. Approving Keystone XL [Link]

3. Eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood [Link]

4. Medicare privatization [Link]

5. Tax reform, as outlined by Paul Ryan [Link]

6. The REINS Act, which would require Congress to approve significant federal regulations [Link]

7. Means-testing Social Security [Link]

8. Defunding Obamacare [Link]

9. Allowing employers to eliminate insurance coverage for birth control [Link]

10. An expansion of off-shore drilling [Link]

11. Preserving all the Bush tax cuts [Link]

12. “Trillions” in budget cuts [Link]

13. Slashing funding for food stamps [Link]

14. Protecting mountaintop strip mining [Link]

15. Stripping the EPA of authority to regulate greenhouse gases [Link]

16. Loosening regulation on coal ash [Link]

17. Delaying Obamacare implementation by one year [Link]

18. Repealing a tax on medical devices [Link]

19. Eliminating Social Service Block Grants [Link]

20. Expanding drilling on federal lands [Link]

21. Restricting the child tax credit [Link]

In just over 2 years, Republicans have been successful in extracting around $1.7 trillion in budget cuts or 72% of the total deficit reduction over that period. Under President Bush the government never shut down and the debt limit was raised five times with bipartisan support and without conditions.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Yet Another Reason Why Employers Should NOT Have Control of OUR Health Care Insurance

Conservative Court Says Religious Employers Can Deny Their Workers Birth Control

— by Ian Millhiser on Jun 28, 2013 at 9:58 am

An eight-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit struck a major blow against Obama Administration rules ensuring that most workers’ health plans will cover birth control. Although Thursday’s decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius leaves a few procedural stones unturned before courts can begin carving holes in the birth control rules, it leaves little doubt that a majority of the court’s judges will allow employers with religious objections to birth control to withhold birth control from their employees.

The Supreme Court established more than three decades ago that a company may not “impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.” As the Court explained in United States v. Lee, “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” So there should be little doubt that the employer in this case, a national chain of crafting retailers, must comply with a law requiring them to include birth control coverage in their health plans. Religious objections cannot be imposed upon an employer’s workers.

The Tenth Circuit’s majority, however, brushes past this aspect of the Lee opinion, although it somehow manages to rely on Lee for the proposition that religious employers’ right to immunize themselves from the law is much more robust than many other courts have held. Simply put, the opinion is a disaster for workers whose bosses cite religious justifications for ignoring their employees’ legal rights.

The majority opinion does not simply conclude that a for profit corporation may assert a religious objection to a law — itself a questionable proposition — it even opens the door to “a large publicly traded corporation tr[ying] to assert religious rights” (although the court does admit that it would be difficult for Walmart to prove that its alleged religious beliefs are sincere). It defines an important limit on religious liberty cases, the requirement that the plaintiff show that a law “substantially burdens” their exercise of religion, so narrowly as to render this limit a nullity in many cases. And it even includes some language suggesting that religious employers could successfully object to laws ensuring “gender equality.”

The last part of the court’s reasoning is significant because it portends the next strike religious conservatives are likely to launch if they win their case against the birth control rules — empowering people with conservative religious beliefs to ignore anti-discrimination laws. As social conservative writer Ross Douthat argued shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the march towards marriage equality may be inevitable, but conservatives can still undermine this march by “build[ing] in as many protections for religious liberty as possible along the way.” Similarly, laws forbidding discrimination against gay workers will be drastically reduced in effectiveness if employers who bear religiously motivated animus against gay people can simply ignore those laws. Today, religious conservatives have their sights set on women who use birth control. If they win, gay people are next.

SB192: They Hope You Don’t Care About Reproductive Freedom

A few legislators want to weaken Nevada’s strong laws protecting reproductive freedom, and they’re doing it by claiming they’re protecting religion. The Religious Freedom Preservation bill (Senate Bill 192), which passed in the Senate and is now in the Assembly, would allow health care providers to deny needed services to patients because of their personal views about race, religion, gender, social status, and type of illness or injury.

Should your health needs be subject to a religious test?  That would be a definite, “NO!”

 Tell your Nevada Assemblyperson that health care providers cannot use religion to discriminate against patients.

We’ve asked the supporters of this bill why Nevada needs these so-called religious protections. We have not received an answer. Maybe it’s because religious freedom is currently well-protected under state and federal law. On the other hand, we have seen numerous real-life attempts to use laws like this to deny access to health care in other states:

  • Pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control or emergency contraception because it is “dangerous” or “not right” for women
  • Doctors and entire hospitals refusing to terminate pregnancies, even to save the life of the mother
  • A hospital denying HIV medication to a patient because of his sexual orientation
  • Dozens of companies suing to escape the contraceptive provisions of President Obama’s health care program

Health care professionals’ primary concern must be a patient’s welfare. Their job is to provide needed health care services, not to impose their personal, religious beliefs on their patients.

Urge your Assemblyperson to protect access to health care that is free from discrimination. Ask them to oppose this troubling and unnecessary bill.

In liberty,

Vanessa Spinazola
Legislative Director
ACLU of Nevada

REPUBLIBAN Approaching Ability to Impose Their Theocratic Beliefs on North Dakota Females

North Dakota Becomes First State To Ban All Abortions By Defining Life At Conception

By Tara Culp-Ressler on Mar 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm

North Dakota lawmakers voted on Friday afternoon to pass a “personhood” abortion ban, which would endow fertilized eggs with all the rights of U.S. citizens and effectively outlaw abortion. The measure, which passed the Senate last month, passed the House by a 57-35 vote and will now head to Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s desk.

The personhood ban will have far-reaching consequences even beyond abortion care, since it will charge doctors who damage embryos with criminal negligence. Doctors in the state say it will also prevent them from performing in vitro fertilization, and some medical professionals have vowed to leave the state if it is signed into law.

The measure is so extreme that some pro-life Republicans in the state have come out against it, planning to join a pro-choice rally in the state capital on Monday to oppose the far-right abortion restriction. “We have stepped over the line,” Republican state Rep. Kathy Hawken (R-Fargo) said of the recent push to pass personhood. “North Dakota hasn’t even passed a primary seatbelt law, but we have the most invasive attack on women’s health anywhere.”

Personhood advocates have pushed their agenda in states throughout the country over the past several years, but their measures have so far been unable to advance. North Dakota is the first state to pass a personhood abortion ban.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Family Research Council: “Unmarried People Should Be Denied Birth Control And Punished For Having Sex”

By Tara Culp-Ressler on Mar 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm

The right-wing Family Research Council — which uses its advocacy muscle to try to block comprehensive sexual health programs in public schools — is now going a step further, suggesting the young Americans who have premarital sex should be punished because they don’t deserve the right to engage in sexual intercourse.

According to senior FRC fellow Pat Fagan, the Supreme Court’s “first assault on marriage” was a 1972 case that overturned a state law banning unmarried people from purchasing birth control. Fagan claims that court decision effectively sanctioned premarital sex, “brushing aside thousands and thousands of years of wisdom, tradition, [and] culture.” Appearing on a radio show with Tony Perkins, the head of the organization, Fagan asserted that “society never gave young people that right,” and instead has an obligation to stop, punish, and shame that type of sexual behavior:

FAGAN: The court decided that single people have the right to contraceptives.What’s that got to do with marriage? Everything, because what the Supreme Court essentially said is single people have the right to engage in sexual intercourse. Well, societies have always forbidden that, there were laws against it. […]

It’s not the contraception, everybody thinks it’s about contraception, but what this court case said was young people have the right to engage in sex outside of marriage. Society never gave young people that right, functioning societies don’t do that, they stop it, they punish it, they corral people, they shame people, they do whatever. The institution for the expression of sexuality is marriage and all societies always shepherded young people there, what the Supreme Court said was forget that shepherding, you can’t block that, that’s not to be done.

In fact, a full 80 percent of unmarried evangelical Christians report that they are having sex. Despite the emphasis on abstinence within the evangelical community — a misguided approach to sexuality that typically shames young adults about their bodies, ignores the existence of the LGBT community, and fails to equip adolescents with the resources they need to effectively manage their sexual health — it’s clear that premarital sex is the norm, not something that threatens the very fabric of modern society.

And ignoring the reality that teens are having sex has had serious consequences across the country. The states that push ineffective abstinence-only health classes have higher rates of teen pregnancy, higher rates of STDs, and higher concentrations of HIV infections. Even the evangelical community itself has started to realize that denying teens sexual health resources isn’t working, and has begun to move in the direction of supporting contraception and sex education.

The United States’ teen birth rate has actually recently plunged to a record low — but that wouldn’t be the case if Fagan had his way and unmarried Americans were denied access to birth control. According to the Guttmacher Institute, that decline in unintended teen pregnancies is “almost exclusively” the result of more young people using contraception.

(HT: Right Wing Watch)


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Oklahoma May Deny Women Affordable Birth Control Because It ‘Poisons Their Bodies’

— by Tara Culp-Ressler on Feb 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Oklahoma already prevents women from using their insurance plans to help cover abortion services, but Republicans aren’t stopping there. One state lawmaker wants to continue stripping insurance coverage for reproductive health services, advancing a measure that would allow employers to refuse to cover birth control for any reason — based solely on the fact that one of his constituents believes it “poisons women’s bodies.”

Under State Sen. Clark Jolley (R)’s measure, “no employer shall be required to provide or pay for any benefit or service related to abortion or contraception through the provision of health insurance to his or her employees.” According to the Tulsa World, Jolley’s inspiration for his bill came from one of his male constituents who is morally opposed to birth control, and wanted to find a small group insurance plan for himself and his family that didn’t include coverage for those services:

Jolley said the measure is the result of a request from a constituent, Dr. Dominic Pedulla, an Oklahoma City cardiologist who describes himself as a natural family planning medical consultant and women’s health researcher. […]

Women are worse off with contraception because it suppresses and disables who they are, Pedulla said.

“Part of their identity is the potential to be a mother,” Pedulla said. “They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies.”

The bill has already cleared a Senate Health committee and now makes it way to Oklahoma’s full Senate. It is unlikely that either Jolley and Pedulla themselves rely on insurance coverage for hormonal contraceptive services — but if the measure becomes law, the two men could limit the health insurance options for the nearly two million women who live in Oklahoma.

Of course, contraception does not actually poison women. The FDA approved the first oral birth control pill in 1960, and that type of contraception is so safe that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends making it available without a prescription, as it is in most other countries around the world. Furthermore, considering that over 99 percent of women of reproductive age have used some form of birth control, the Oklahoma women who rely on insurance coverage for their contraception would likely disagree with Pedulla’s assertion that it “suppresses and radically contradicts part of their own identity.”

In reality, access to affordable birth control is a critical economic issue for women. When women have control over their reproductive choices, it allows them to achieve economic goals like completing their education, becoming financially independent, or keeping a job. But birth control can carry high out-of-pocket costs, and over half of young women say they haven’t used their contraceptive method as directed because of cost prohibitions. Nonetheless, Republican lawmakers have repeatedly pushed measures to allow employers to drop coverage for birth control.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.