Daily Women's Health Policy Report

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Daily Women's Health Policy Report by the National Partnership for Women & Families
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Blogs Comment on 'Bad Medicine' of State Abortion Restrictions, Paid Leave, More

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 14:59

We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from "ThinkProgress," MSNBC and more.

Blogs Comment on 'Bad Medicine' of State Abortion Restrictions, Paid Leave, More

July 15, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from "ThinkProgress," MSNBC and more.

PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: "How Bad Medicine is Sweeping the Country, One State at a Time," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "[A] wave of anti-choice legislation has completely reoriented the women's health landscape, ensuring that medical professionals are forced to ignore their best judgment in order to remain compliant with the law, according to a new report from the National Partnership for Women & Families," Culp-Ressler writes. The report focuses on four types of laws that have no scientific justification, including "unnecessary ultrasound requirements, biased counseling sessions, mandatory waiting periods, and regulations on the abortion pill," Culp-Ressler explains. According to the report, 33 states have adopted at least one of these laws, while 16 have passed all four types (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/14).

What others are saying about protecting reproductive rights:

~ "An Opportunity for Congress To Stand Up for Women," Nancy Northup, MSNBC.

~ "Map of the Day: 'Bad Medicine' Laws Undermine Reproductive Health Care Across the Country," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.

~ "Should Abortion Be 'Rare'?'" Fran Moreland Johns, Huffington Post blogs.

SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES: "Why Does the U.S. Rank Dead Last in Paid Time Off for New Parents?" Judy Molland, Care2: The "U.S. is the last remaining industrialized nation to offer only unpaid parental leave to workers," Molland writes, citing a chart on the parental leave policies of 38 industrialized nations that was compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The U.S., along with Mexico, offers certain workers 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave, "which is the smallest amount of leave protection related to the birth of a child among these 38 countries," Molland adds. However, 63% of U.S. residents support the idea of parental leave, according to a 2012 report. Molland writes, "The U.S. needs to get in line with the rest of the industrialized world" (Molland, Care2, 7/14).

What others are saying about supporting working families:

~ "EEOC to Employers: Stop Discriminating Against Pregnant Workers," Brigid Schulte/Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post's "She The People."

CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Tennessee Arrests First Mother Under Its New Pregnancy Criminalization Law," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler discusses the case of 26-year-old Mallory Loyola who is "the first woman to be arrested under a new law [SB 1391] in Tennessee that allows the state to criminally charge mothers for potentially causing harm to their fetuses by using drugs." The measure took effect this month and "stipulates that 'a woman may be prosecuted for assault for the illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant, if her child is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug.'" However, Culp-Ressler explains that "this may not actually apply to Loyola's case" because there is no evidence that Loyola "either used a narcotic drug or caused harm to her newborn child" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/11).

What others are saying about criminalizing pregnancy:

~ "Rick Perry’s 'Pro-Life' Hypocrisy: How Texas Puts Pregnant Women at Risk," Katie McDonough, Salon.

~ "Pregnant Texas Woman Denied Methadone Treatment in Jail Released to Home Monitoring," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.

ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Repro Wrap: Anti-Abortion Activists Lose Eugenics Talking Point and Other News," Robin Marty, Care2: While antiabortion-rights activists claim that "[a]bortion providers prey on communities of color" and use "birth control and abortion as a eugenics plot," new research from the Guttmacher Institute shows that "abortion clinics actually aren't more prevalent in minority communities," Marty writes. The report found that fewer than one in 10 abortion providers are located in areas where the majority of residents are black, while about 13% are located in areas with mostly Hispanic residents (Marty, Care2, 7/11).

SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: "Ronald Lee Haskell Has a History of Domestic Violence. How Did He Get a Gun?" Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": Marcotte discusses the case of Ronald Lee Haskell, who "allegedly broke into his former sister-in-law's home in Spring, Texas and killed her, her husband, and four of her five children." She notes that media coverage of the event suggests that "the spree appears to have been Haskell's attempt to get revenge on his ex-wife's family." Marcotte continues, "To no one's great surprise, Haskell had been arrested for domestic violence in 2008, and his ex-wife filed a protective order against him in 2013." According to Marcotte, the events "lea[d] to the question: Considering the laws put in place, both on federal and state levels, to prevent domestic abusers from getting guns, how did Haskell get one?" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 7/11).

What others are saying about sexual and gender-based violence:

~ "There is No Such Thing as a 'Classic Rapist,'" Ximena Ramirez, Care2.

~ "People are Awful: #JusticeForJada Leads to More Cyberbullying and Hobart and William Smith Colleges' Football Priorities," Viv Smythe, Feministe.


Employers Reminded of Pregnancy Non-Discrimination Laws as Complaints Rise

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 14:58

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday released new enforcement guidelines reminding employers that they are prohibited from discriminating against workers based on past, future or current pregnancies, the New York Times' "Business Day" reports.

Employers Reminded of Pregnancy Non-Discrimination Laws as Complaints Rise

July 16, 2014 — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday released new enforcement guidelines reminding employers that they are prohibited from discriminating against workers based on past, future or current pregnancies, the New York Times' "Business Day" reports.

The document is EEOC's first enforcement guidance on the issue since 1983. EEOC officials said the guidelines were developed in response to an increasing number of pregnancy discrimination complaints. A large percentage of the complaints were decided against employers, suggesting that businesses are in need of clarification on the issue (Greenhouse, "Business Day," New York Times, 7/14).

Overall, pregnancy-related complaints to EEOC increased by 46% from 1997 through 2011, according to the agency's most recent data (Raum, AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review, 7/16).

Guideline Details

The new guidance aims to detail employers' responsibilities under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PL 95-555), the Times reports.

EEOC states in the guidelines that discrimination "based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is a prohibited form of sex discrimination" and that employers cannot "fire, refuse to hire, demote or take any other adverse action if pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition is 'a motivating factor.'"

While the guidelines do not define pregnancy as a disability, they note that employees' pregnancy-related impairments can be treated as disabilities if they substantially limit a major life activity, such as lifting, standing or walking.

Further, the guidelines state that employers cannot treat pregnant workers differently than other employees based on their ability or inability to work because of such limitations. For example, the guidelines define lactation as a "pregnancy-related medical condition" that employers must allow workers to address, as they do for workers with similarly limiting conditions.

The guidelines also state that employers are prohibited from treating women differently based on their fertility or childbearing capacity; that they cannot deny job opportunities to women with young children if they would not also deny the positions to men with young children; and that they are barred from discriminating against women who say that they plan to become pregnant. Employers also are prohibited from forcing women to take leave as long as they can perform their jobs and from reassigning women to less-desirable work out of a concern that they will be less committed to their job after maternity leave.

In addition, the guidelines affirm that employer-sponsored health plans must apply the same terms and conditions to pregnancy-related costs as other medical costs (Greenhouse, "Business Day," New York Times, 7/14).

Impact

Joan Williams, a law professor at the University of California's Hastings College of Law whose research is cited in the EEOC report, said the main impact of the new regulations will be providing clearer guideposts for EEOC investigators and giving employment lawyers better ways to argue clients' discrimination claims (Raum, AP/Washington Times, 7/16).

Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, called the new guidelines "a powerful tool in the effort to eradicate the unlawful and unequal treatment of pregnant women in the workplace" (AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review, 7/16).


Senate Republicans Block Bill To Upend Hobby Lobby Ruling

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 14:55

Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a bill that aimed to reverse the Supreme Court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby contraceptive coverage case, Politico reports.

Senate Republicans Block Bill To Upend Hobby Lobby Ruling

July 17, 2014 — Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a bill that aimed to reverse the Supreme Court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby contraceptive coverage case, Politico reports (Winfield Cunningham, Politico, 7/16).

The legislation would have prohibited employers from discriminating against female employees by denying "coverage of a specific health care item or service" that is guaranteed under federal law. It also would have prevented employers from using the Hobby Lobby ruling to deny employees coverage for any other preventive services, such as vaccinations, among other provisions (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/16).

Vote Details

A procedural vote to take up the bill failed 56-43, falling short of the 60-vote threshold that was needed. Three Republicans -- Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) joined almost all Democrats in supporting the measure.

According to Politico, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Calif.) voted against the bill in a procedural move that allows him to reintroduce the bill at a later time (Politico, 7/16).

"Despite Republican obstruction, Senate Democrats will keep working to end this type of discrimination against women," Reid said, adding, "We will continue to stand up to ensure that a woman's boss cannot interfere with her personal healthcare decisions."

Meanwhile, Democrats in the House pledged to try to force a vote on companion legislation in the GOP-controlled chamber, The Hill's "Floor Action" reports (Cox, "Floor Action," The Hill, 7/16).

Comments

Republicans and Democrats sparred over the impact of the proposed bill, with Republicans arguing that it encroached on religious freedom and Democrats contending that it was necessary to protect women's rights and health.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said, "In America, you shouldn't be forced to choose between giving up your business for your faith or giving up your faith for your business," adding that the government "has no right ... under the Constitution ... to ask people to make that choice " (Chacko, "#WGDB," Roll Call, 7/16).

However, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued that in approving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (PL 103-141) -- the law at the center of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision -- Congress had intended to apply religious freedoms only to individuals, not corporations. He said that as someone who helped craft that law, he feels the Supreme Court "unwisely stretched" the law and "misapplied it to for-profit companies" (Politico, 7/16).

Meanwhile, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said that "[w]omen across the country ... watched as all but three Republicans showed they care more about protecting the rights of CEOs and corporations than about protecting the rights of women to access critical healthcare coverage."

She said that Democrats would "keep working on this until we get it done" and "fix this policy" (McGinnis/Stephenson, Reuters/Chicago Tribune, 7/16).

White House Voices Support for Bill

In related news, the White House in a Statement of Administrative Policy on Wednesday endorsed the Democratic bill, The Hill reports.

The White House said, "The administration believes that women should make personal healthcare decisions for themselves, rather than their employers deciding for them," adding, "This legislation would restore that right" (Viebeck, The Hill, 7/16).


FDA Considers New Treatment Option for Cervical Cancer

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 14:27

FDA has granted priority review to Genentech's application to expand approval of the drug Avastin to include cervical cancer treatment, the San Francisco Business Times' "Biotechsf" reports.

FDA Considers New Treatment Option for Cervical Cancer

July 17, 2014 — FDA has granted priority review to Genentech's application to expand approval of the drug Avastin to include cervical cancer treatment, the San Francisco Business Times' "Biotechsf" reports.

According to "Biotechsf," priority review is granted to medications that could significantly improve a treatment's safety or effectiveness. In the case of Avastin, which is already one of the best-selling cancer drugs in the world, Genentech wants FDA permission to market the drug for use in conjunction with chemotherapy for women with metastatic, recurrent or persistent cervical cancer.

Currently, chemotherapy is the only option for those patients (Leuty, "Biotechsf," San Francisco Business Times, 7/15).

According to the Wall Street Journal, about 250,000 women worldwide die from cervical cancer annually, including nearly 4,000 deaths in the U.S. The disease is the fourth-highest cause of cancer death among women (Maclucas, Wall Street Journal, 7/15).

Clinical Trial

In a 452-woman clinical trial, women with cervical cancer who received both Avastin and chemotherapy lived an average of 17 months, compared with an average of 13.3 months for women who only received chemotherapy.

In addition, women who received both chemotherapy and Avastin had a longer time period before their disease worsened: an average of 8.2 months for women who received the combination treatment, compared with 5.9 months for women who received just chemo.

FDA in 2011 revoked approval of Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer, but it remains an approved treatment for certain types of colorectal, lung and kidney cancers. FDA could decide to approve or reject Avastin for use in cervical cancer treatment by Oct. 24 ("Biotechsf," San Francisco Business Times, 7/15).


Senate Republicans Block Bill To Upend Hobby Lobby Ruling

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 14:24

Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a bill that aimed to reverse the Supreme Court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby contraceptive coverage case, Politico reports.

Senate Republicans Block Bill To Upend Hobby Lobby Ruling

July 17, 2014 — Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a bill that aimed to reverse the Supreme Court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby contraceptive coverage case, Politico reports (Winfield Cunningham, Politico, 7/16).

The legislation would have prohibited employers from discriminating against female employees by denying "coverage of a specific health care item or service" that is guaranteed under federal law. It also would have prevented employers from using the Hobby Lobby ruling to deny employees coverage for any other preventive services, such as vaccinations, among other provisions (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/16).

Vote Details

A procedural vote to take up the bill failed 56-43, falling short of the 60-vote threshold that was needed. Three Republicans -- Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) joined almost all Democrats in supporting the measure.

According to Politico, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Calif.) voted against the bill in a procedural move that allows him to reintroduce the bill at a later time (Politico, 7/16).

"Despite Republican obstruction, Senate Democrats will keep working to end this type of discrimination against women," Reid said, adding, "We will continue to stand up to ensure that a woman's boss cannot interfere with her personal healthcare decisions."

Meanwhile, Democrats in the House pledged to try to force a vote on companion legislation in the GOP-controlled chamber, The Hill's "Floor Action" reports (Cox, "Floor Action," The Hill, 7/16).

Comments

Republicans and Democrats sparred over the impact of the proposed bill, with Republicans arguing that it encroached on religious freedom and Democrats contending that it was necessary to protect women's rights and health.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said, "In America, you shouldn't be forced to choose between giving up your business for your faith or giving up your faith for your business," adding that the government "has no right ... under the Constitution ... to ask people to make that choice " (Chacko, "#WGDB," Roll Call, 7/16).

However, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued that in approving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (PL 103-141) -- the law at the center of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision -- Congress had intended to apply religious freedoms only to individuals, not corporations. He said that as someone who helped craft that law, he feels the Supreme Court "unwisely stretched" the law and "misapplied it to for-profit companies" (Politico, 7/16).

Meanwhile, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said that "[w]omen across the country ... watched as all but three Republicans showed they care more about protecting the rights of CEOs and corporations than about protecting the rights of women to access critical healthcare coverage."

She said that Democrats would "keep working on this until we get it done" and "fix this policy" (McGinnis/Stephenson, Reuters/Chicago Tribune, 7/16).

White House Voices Support for Bill

In related news, the White House in a Statement of Administrative Policy on Wednesday endorsed the Democratic bill, The Hill reports.

The White House said, "The administration believes that women should make personal healthcare decisions for themselves, rather than their employers deciding for them," adding, "This legislation would restore that right" (Viebeck, The Hill, 7/16).


Mass. Senate Acts Quickly To Protect Abortion Clinics Before Session Ends

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 14:21

The Massachusetts Senate on Wednesday approved a bill (S 2281) that aims to strengthen security around reproductive health centers after the Supreme Court struck down a state "buffer zone" law that barred protests within 35 feet of clinic entrances, the Boston Globe reports.

Mass. Senate Acts Quickly To Protect Abortion Clinics Before Session Ends

July 17, 2014 — The Massachusetts Senate on Wednesday approved a bill (S 2281) that aims to strengthen security around reproductive health centers after the Supreme Court struck down a state "buffer zone" law that barred protests within 35 feet of clinic entrances, the Boston Globe reports.

State lawmakers are moving quickly on the legislation in order to pass it before the legislative session ends on July 31. The bill now proceeds to the state House.

Wednesday's state Senate vote came just two hours after a committee voted to pass the legislation on to the full chamber (Sampson, Boston Globe, 7/16).

Legislation Details

The bill, filed by state Sen. Harriette Chandler (D), would give law enforcement personnel the authority to give dispersal orders if two or more protesters deliberately prevent patients or staff members from entering a clinic. Individuals who receive such orders would be required to stay at least 25 feet away from the clinic's entrance for up to eight hours.

The bill also would prohibit protesters from interfering with vehicles approaching or leaving the area, as well as intimidating or harming people accessing the clinic (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/15). In addition, victims of such intimidation would be allowed to seek damages through civil action.

Comments

State Senate President Therese Murray (D) said the bill "will restore the basic rights that all women are entitled to when it comes to how they take care of their health" (LeBlanc, AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 7/17).

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said that without new legislation, the environment surrounding abortion clinics has "no direction." He added that the bill would help set guidelines to aid law enforcement (Boston Globe, 7/16).

Gov. Deval Patrick (D), who supports the bill, said he believes it is constitutionally sound. However, he anticipates challenges.

For example, Eleanor McCullen, the plaintiff who successfully challenged the state's buffer zone law, said she would file another lawsuit if the bill is signed into law (AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 7/17).


N.H., Pittsburgh 'Buffer Zone' Laws in Legal Crosshairs After Supreme Court Ruling

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 13:26

The New Hampshire attorney general's office will not enforce a state "buffer zone" law (SB 319) that took effect last week while a federal judge considers a related lawsuit over the law's constitutionality, the Portsmouth Herald reports.

N.H., Pittsburgh 'Buffer Zone' Laws in Legal Crosshairs After Supreme Court Ruling

July 17, 2014 — The New Hampshire attorney general's office will not enforce a state "buffer zone" law (SB 319) that took effect last week while a federal judge considers a related lawsuit over the law's constitutionality, the Portsmouth Herald reports (Dinan, Portsmouth Herald, 7/15).

The law created a 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in the state.

Legal Background

Last week, a Christian legal group filed a federal lawsuit against the law, alleging that the measure violates antiabortion-rights protesters' right to free speech. The group, called the Alliance Defending Freedom, is the same organization that led a challenge resulting in a recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Massachusetts "buffer zone" law.

The attorney general is confident that the law is constitutional, according to a spokesperson for New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D). The New Hampshire law differs from the Massachusetts measure in that it gives clinics flexibility to determine the size of their buffer zone, as long as it does not exceed 25 feet (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/9).

According to the Herald, an initial hearing over the lawsuit is scheduled for July 25 in U.S. District Court. The case involves the Joan G. Loverling Center, a women's health center in Greenland, N.H. (Portsmouth Herald, 7/15).

Group Mulls Challenge to Pittsburgh Law

In related news, Matt Bowman, senior counsel at ADF, said that he is "looking very closely into the possibility" of filing suit against an ordinance in Pittsburgh that created a 15-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

Meanwhile, Tim McNulty, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill Peduto, said city officials intend to keep enforcing the law. He said that the law is "a lot different from the Massachusetts zones" and "narrowly tailored enough to stand after the Supreme Court decision" that invalidated the Massachusetts law.

According to Planned Parenthood, harassment reports have declined substantially since the ordinance was enacted. Planned Parenthood spokesperson Aleigha Cavalier said, "It allows the protesters to say what they want to say, and allows our patients to get in the door without worrying about someone blocking it" (Smeltz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 7/15).


Many Employers Favor Contraceptive Coverage

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 13:22

Although the Supreme Court has ruled that certain companies may exclude contraceptive coverage from their employer-sponsored health plans, most insured women will still be able to obtain contraception without out-of-pocket costs, Kaiser Health News/NPR's "Shots" reports.

Many Employers Favor Contraceptive Coverage

July 17, 2014 — Although the Supreme Court has ruled that certain companies may exclude contraceptive coverage from their employer-sponsored health plans, most insured women will still be able to obtain contraception without out-of-pocket costs, Kaiser Health News/NPR's "Shots" reports.

The Supreme Court's ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby did not undo an Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) provision that requires most health plans to cover preventive services, including FDA-approved contraceptives, without cost-sharing by consumers. Rather, the high court said that "closely held" companies can refuse to provide contraceptive coverage in their health plans if the businesses' owners have religious objections.

Even before the ACA expanded contraceptive coverage, the majority of employers offered it in their health plans, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation employer health benefits survey.

Adam Sonfield, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, said many employers view the coverage as beneficial because covering birth control is less costly than expenses related to maternity and delivery care (Andrews, KHN/NPR's "Shots," 7/15).


Supreme Court Asked To Review N.C. 'Choose Life' License Plates Law

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 17:15

Republican leaders in the North Carolina Legislature have petitioned the Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court ruling barring the state from issuing antiabortion-rights license plates, the AP/Raleigh News & Observer reports.

Supreme Court Asked To Review N.C. 'Choose Life' License Plates Law

July 16, 2014 — Republican leaders in the North Carolina Legislature have petitioned the Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court ruling barring the state from issuing antiabortion-rights license plates, the AP/Raleigh News & Observer reports (Biesecker, AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 7/14).

In 2011, state lawmakers approved the "Choose Life" plates but rejected proposals for plates with messages backing abortion rights. For each plate sold, $15 would go to not-for-profit crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortion rights. However, the state never manufactured any of the plates because of the legal dispute.

Legal Background

In February, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court ruling that it is unconstitutional for North Carolina to offer license plates with the message as the state does not also offer plates that support abortion rights (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/18).

Although North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) defended the law in federal court, he declined to appeal the 4th Circuit ruling. In an email to North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) and state Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger (R) in April, Chief Deputy Attorney General Grayson Kelley urged the lawmakers not to pursue further appeals.

Instead, Kelley urged Tillis and Berger to draft new legislation "as an efficient way to resolve the issues." He also noted that the 4th Circuit previously struck down a similar law in 2004 and that the Supreme Court at that time refused to review the case (AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 7/14).


Judge Blocks Alaska Law on Medicaid Abortion Coverage

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 17:14

An Alaska judge blocked a state law restricting abortion coverage in its Medicaid program from taking effect on Wednesday while he considers a Planned Parenthood lawsuit claiming that the legislation is unconstitutional, Alaska Public Media reports.

Judge Blocks Alaska Law on Medicaid Abortion Coverage

July 16, 2014 — An Alaska judge blocked a state law restricting abortion coverage in its Medicaid program from taking effect on Wednesday while he considers a Planned Parenthood lawsuit claiming that the legislation is unconstitutional, Alaska Public Media reports.

The law revises the state's definition of what constitutes a "medically necessary" abortion that is eligible for Medicaid coverage (Gutierrez, Alaska Public Media, 7/15).

In an injunction issued Tuesday, Superior Court Judge John Suddock noted that Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest raised "substantial issues" regarding the restrictive nature of the law that "enhances the risk of constitutional invalidity" (AP/Washington Times, 7/15).

Background

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) signed the legislation (SB 49) into law in April. The law, which is similar to state regulations issued in January, states that abortions are only medically necessary to preserve a woman's life or physical health, whereas the regulations also permitted Medicaid abortion coverage when the procedure was needed to protect a woman's mental health.

Specifically, the measure defines an abortion as medically necessary if the pregnancy poses "serious risk to the life or physical health of a woman," including the risk of death, complications that could impair a major bodily function or one of 21 specified conditions, physical disorders or injuries.

PPGNW previously challenged the regulations but amended the lawsuit in May to incorporate the new state law (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/9).


Contraceptive Coverage, Abortion Bills Shape Midterm Strategy for Both Parties

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:19

As both parties angle for an edge with voters this fall, Senate Democrats and Republicans are pushing competing legislation that responds to the Supreme Court's contraceptive coverage ruling, while Democrats are also backing a measure to nullify medically unnecessary state restrictions on abortion, Politico Pro reports.

Contraceptive Coverage, Abortion Bills Shape Midterm Strategy for Both Parties

July 16, 2014 — As both parties angle for an edge with voters this fall, Senate Democrats and Republicans are pushing competing legislation that responds to the Supreme Court's contraceptive coverage ruling, while Democrats are also backing a measure to nullify medically unnecessary state restrictions on abortion, Politico Pro reports.

According to Politico Pro, none of the measures are likely to become law. However, lawmakers are using the proposals to frame their campaigns for the midterm election, with Democrats focusing on the Supreme Court ruling to reinforce their "war on women" messaging and the GOP hoping to broaden its appeal among the female electorate.

Senate Vote on Democrats' Contraceptive Coverage Bill

Senate Democrats on Tuesday touted their legislation that aims to reverse the Supreme Court's ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell allowing companies to refuse contraceptive coverage in their employer-sponsored health plans based on the business owners' religious beliefs, Politico Pro reports.

The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote on Wednesday on whether to move forward with the bill, but it is unlikely to garner the 60 votes necessary to clear that hurdle (Winfield Cunningham, Politico Pro, 7/15).

The legislation would prohibit employers from discriminating against female employees by denying "coverage of a specific health care item or service" that is guaranteed under federal law. It also would prevent employers from using the Hobby Lobby ruling to deny employees coverage for any other preventive services, such as vaccinations, among other provisions (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/10).

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the bill's primary sponsor, said that access to contraception "shouldn't be a controversial issue." She added, "The only controversy about birth control is the fact that it is 2014 and women across America are still fighting for this basic health care" (Politico Pro, 7/15).

Republicans Unveil Bill Validating Hobby Lobby Ruling

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans said they are proposing competing legislation that would affirm that employers cannot bar employees from purchasing contraceptives (Cox, "Floor Action," The Hill, 7/15). The bill also would require FDA to study whether allowing over-the-counter access to contraception is safe and expand how health savings accounts could be used to purchase contraception.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) -- who sponsored the bill alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) -- said that the bill makes clear that the Hobby Lobby ruling will not prevent women from buying contraception.

"There is nothing in the Hobby Lobby ruling that allows a company to stop a woman from getting or filling a prescription for contraception," Ayotte said (Politico Pro, 7/15).

Lawmakers Debate Women's Health Protection Act

In related news, Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee sparred at a hearing on Tuesday over legislation (S 1696) that aims to nullify medically unnecessary state restrictions on abortion, CQ Roll Call reports (Margetta, CQ Roll Call, 7/15).

The bill, called the Women's Health Protection Act, would prevent states from imposing restrictions on abortion providers "that are more burdensome than those restrictions imposed on medically comparable procedures." It also would prohibit states from banning abortion prior to viability or when a doctor believes that continuing the pregnancy would harm a woman's health, among other provisions (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/15).

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Cali.) has introduced a companion measure (HR 3471) in the House, with 124 Democratic co-sponsors (CQ Roll Call, 7/15).

According to the Los Angeles Times' "Nation Now," the bill could appeal to female voters, particularly unmarried women, who often have low turnout in midterm elections. Democrats are hoping to court that voter bloc to help maintain control of the Senate, "Nation Now" reports (Levine, "Nation Now," Los Angeles Times, 7/15).

During the hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the bill's primary sponsor, said the measure comes in response to a "cascading avalanche of restrictions on reproductive health" and takes aim at "regulations that do nothing to help a woman's health or safety and in fact are more likely to harm it" (CQ Roll Call, 7/15).

Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) called the bill a "weak political ploy" that Senate Democrats are using to "appear compassionate and concerned about women's rights when, in reality, the bill disregards popular and common sense laws enacted by various states aimed at protecting women and children across the country" ("Nation Now," Los Angeles Times, 7/15).

L.A. Times Column: Women's Health Protection Act 'Overdue'

Los Angeles Times columnist Robin Abcarian writes, "In the last few years, state legislators around the country have been busy with an onslaught of antiabortion legislation aimed at making it impossible for women to exercise what is still (despite the opposition's best efforts) a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution." She notes that "four times as many bills aimed at limiting abortion access (93) were passed between 2011 and 2013 than had been passed in the previous decade (22)."

Abcarian discusses testimony presented at the Women's Health Protection Act hearing. She writes that even if the bill does not pass, efforts to bring attention to state abortion restrictions are a "[w]elcome, if overdue," step (Abcarian, Los Angeles Times, 7/15).


Employers Reminded of Pregnancy Non-Discrimination Laws as Complaints Rise

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:09

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday released new enforcement guidelines reminding employers that they are prohibited from discriminating against workers based on past, future or current pregnancies, the New York Times' "Business Day" reports.

Employers Reminded of Pregnancy Non-Discrimination Laws as Complaints Rise

July 16, 2014 — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday released new enforcement guidelines reminding employers that they are prohibited from discriminating against workers based on past, future or current pregnancies, the New York Times' "Business Day" reports.

The document is EEOC's first enforcement guidance on the issue since 1983. EEOC officials said the guidelines were developed in response to an increasing number of pregnancy discrimination complaints. A large percentage of the complaints were decided against employers, suggesting that businesses are in need of clarification on the issue (Greenhouse, "Business Day," New York Times, 7/14).

Overall, pregnancy-related complaints to EEOC increased by 46% from 1997 through 2011, according to the agency's most recent data (Raum, AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review, 7/16).

Guideline Details

The new guidance aims to detail employers' responsibilities under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PL 95-555), the Times reports.

EEOC states in the guidelines that discrimination "based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is a prohibited form of sex discrimination" and that employers cannot "fire, refuse to hire, demote or take any other adverse action if pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition is 'a motivating factor.'"

While the guidelines do not define pregnancy as a disability, they note that employees' pregnancy-related impairments can be treated as disabilities if they substantially limit a major life activity, such as lifting, standing or walking.

Further, the guidelines state that employers cannot treat pregnant workers differently than other employees based on their ability or inability to work because of such limitations. For example, the guidelines define lactation as a "pregnancy-related medical condition" that employers must allow workers to address, as they do for workers with similarly limiting conditions.

The guidelines also state that employers are prohibited from treating women differently based on their fertility or childbearing capacity; that they cannot deny job opportunities to women with young children if they would not also deny the positions to men with young children; and that they are barred from discriminating against women who say that they plan to become pregnant. Employers also are prohibited from forcing women to take leave as long as they can perform their jobs and from reassigning women to less-desirable work out of a concern that they will be less committed to their job after maternity leave.

In addition, the guidelines affirm that employer-sponsored health plans must apply the same terms and conditions to pregnancy-related costs as other medical costs (Greenhouse, "Business Day," New York Times, 7/14).

Impact

Joan Williams, a law professor at the University of California's Hastings College of Law whose research is cited in the EEOC report, said the main impact of the new regulations will be providing clearer guideposts for EEOC investigators and giving employment lawyers better ways to argue clients' discrimination claims (Raum, AP/Washington Times, 7/16).

Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, called the new guidelines "a powerful tool in the effort to eradicate the unlawful and unequal treatment of pregnant women in the workplace" (AP/Spokane Spokesman-Review, 7/16).


Judge Blocks Alaska Law on Medicaid Abortion Coverage

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 14:54

An Alaska judge blocked a state law restricting abortion coverage in its Medicaid program from taking effect on Wednesday while he considers a Planned Parenthood lawsuit claiming that the legislation is unconstitutional, Alaska Public Media reports.

Judge Blocks Alaska Law on Medicaid Abortion Coverage

July 16, 2014 — An Alaska judge blocked a state law restricting abortion coverage in its Medicaid program from taking effect on Wednesday while he considers a Planned Parenthood lawsuit claiming that the legislation is unconstitutional, Alaska Public Media reports.

The law revises the state's definition of what constitutes a "medically necessary" abortion that is eligible for Medicaid coverage (Gutierrez, Alaska Public Media, 7/15).

In an injunction issued Tuesday, Superior Court Judge John Suddock noted that Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest raised "substantial issues" regarding the restrictive nature of the law that "enhances the risk of constitutional invalidity" (AP/Washington Times, 7/15).

Background

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) signed the legislation (SB 49) into law in April. The law, which is similar to state regulations issued in January, states that abortions are only medically necessary to preserve a woman's life or physical health, whereas the regulations also permitted Medicaid abortion coverage when the procedure was needed to protect a woman's mental health.

Specifically, the measure defines an abortion as medically necessary if the pregnancy poses "serious risk to the life or physical health of a woman," including the risk of death, complications that could impair a major bodily function or one of 21 specified conditions, physical disorders or injuries.

PPGNW previously challenged the regulations but amended the lawsuit in May to incorporate the new state law (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/9).


Supreme Court Asked To Review N.C. 'Choose Life' License Plates Law

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 14:21

Republican leaders in the North Carolina Legislature have petitioned the Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court ruling barring the state from issuing antiabortion-rights license plates, the AP/Raleigh News & Observer reports.

Supreme Court Asked To Review N.C. 'Choose Life' License Plates Law

July 16, 2014 — Republican leaders in the North Carolina Legislature have petitioned the Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court ruling barring the state from issuing antiabortion-rights license plates, the AP/Raleigh News & Observer reports (Biesecker, AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 7/14).

In 2011, state lawmakers approved the "Choose Life" plates but rejected proposals for plates with messages backing abortion rights. For each plate sold, $15 would go to not-for-profit crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortion rights. However, the state never manufactured any of the plates because of the legal dispute.

Legal Background

In February, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court ruling that it is unconstitutional for North Carolina to offer license plates with the message as the state does not also offer plates that support abortion rights (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/18).

Although North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) defended the law in federal court, he declined to appeal the 4th Circuit ruling. In an email to North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) and state Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger (R) in April, Chief Deputy Attorney General Grayson Kelley urged the lawmakers not to pursue further appeals.

Instead, Kelley urged Tillis and Berger to draft new legislation "as an efficient way to resolve the issues." He also noted that the 4th Circuit previously struck down a similar law in 2004 and that the Supreme Court at that time refused to review the case (AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 7/14).


New Injectable Contraceptive Debuts in Four African Countries

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 14:21

Last week, a new form of an injectable contraceptive was introduced to women in Burkina Faso, one of four African countries where it will be available, the New York Times reports.

New Injectable Contraceptive Debuts in Four African Countries

July 16, 2014 — Last week, a new form of an injectable contraceptive was introduced to women in Burkina Faso, one of four African countries where it will be available, the New York Times reports.

Called Sayana Press, Pfizer's new contraceptive is similar to the drugmaker's Depo-Provera but designed to be easier to use. It comes in a plastic capsule that contains a short needle, which is injected just below the skin, rather than into the muscle.

Sara Tifft, associate director of global reproductive health at the Seattle-based health technology developer PATH, said the contraceptive's developers hope that women eventually will be able to administer it themselves.

Injectable contraceptives last for three months, which makes them popular among African women who might not want their husbands to know they are using birth control, according to the Times.

Burkina Faso will receive 250,000 doses of the contraceptive initially. Sayana Press also will be introduced in Niger, Senegal and Uganda. A Pfizer spokesperson did not say how much the company is charging per dosage (McNeil, New York Times, 7/14).


Featured Blogs

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 17:24

"How Bad Medicine is Sweeping the Country, One State at a Time," (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/14); "Tennessee Arrests First Mother Under Its New Pregnancy Criminalization Law," (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/11).

July 15, 2014

FEATURED BLOG

"How Bad Medicine is Sweeping the Country, One State at a Time," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "[A] wave of anti-choice legislation has completely reoriented the women's health landscape, ensuring that medical professionals are forced to ignore their best judgment in order to remain compliant with the law, according to a new report from the National Partnership for Women & Families," Culp-Ressler writes. The report focuses on four types of laws that have no scientific justification, including "unnecessary ultrasound requirements, biased counseling sessions, mandatory waiting periods, and regulations on the abortion pill," Culp-Ressler explains. According to the report, 33 states have adopted at least one of these laws, while 16 have passed all four types (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/14).

What others are saying about protecting reproductive rights:

~ "An Opportunity for Congress To Stand Up for Women," Nancy Northup, MSNBC.

~ "Map of the Day: 'Bad Medicine' Laws Undermine Reproductive Health Care Across the Country," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.

~ "Should Abortion Be 'Rare'?'" Fran Moreland Johns, Huffington Post blogs.

FEATURED BLOG

"Tennessee Arrests First Mother Under Its New Pregnancy Criminalization Law," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler discusses the case of 26-year-old Mallory Loyola who is "the first woman to be arrested under a new law [SB 1391] in Tennessee that allows the state to criminally charge mothers for potentially causing harm to their fetuses by using drugs." The measure took effect this month and "stipulates that 'a woman may be prosecuted for assault for the illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant, if her child is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug.'" However, Culp-Ressler explains that "this may not actually apply to Loyola's case" because there is no evidence that Loyola "either used a narcotic drug or caused harm to her newborn child" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/11).

What others are saying about criminalizing pregnancy:

~ "Rick Perry’s 'Pro-Life' Hypocrisy: How Texas Puts Pregnant Women at Risk," Katie McDonough, Salon.

~ "Pregnant Texas Woman Denied Methadone Treatment in Jail Released to Home Monitoring," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.

Multi-Million Fundraising Goals Set for Tenn. Antiabortion-Rights Referendum

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 17:19

Abortion-rights supporters and opponents in Tennessee have both set fundraising goals of millions of dollars in a battle over a state ballot initiative (SJR 127) that would decrease abortion-rights protections in Tennessee's constitution, the Tennessean reports.

Multi-Million Fundraising Goals Set for Tenn. Antiabortion-Rights Referendum

July 15, 2014 — Abortion-rights supporters and opponents in Tennessee have both set fundraising goals of millions of dollars in a battle over a state ballot initiative (SJR 127) that would decrease abortion-rights protections in Tennessee's constitution, the Tennessean reports (Wadhwani, Tennessean, 7/13). State residents will vote on the ballot measure in November.

Background

In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that the state constitution guarantees women in the state a fundamental right to abortion. The judges in their opinion wrote, "A woman's right to terminate her pregnancy is a vital part of the right to privacy guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution."

If it passes in November, Amendment 1 would amend the state constitution to include the statement, "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion" (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/11).

Fundraising Details

Abortion-rights advocates behind the Vote No on One campaign have set a fundraising goal of about $4 million and have raised more than $360,000 in the past six months, according to the Tennessean.

Most of the money has come from Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion-rights groups both inside and outside the state, including $175,000 from Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, $50,000 from Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest in Seattle and $35,000 from the American Civil Liberties Union, along with a dozen individual contributions that ranged from $200 to $1,000.

Vote No on One Campaign Director and Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee CEO Jeff Teague said, "We know from conversations we've had with national donors and other Planned Parenthood affiliates that people are very concerned about what's happening in the South, where we have seen really draconian laws passed in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama."

Meanwhile, abortion-rights opponents with the Yes on 1 campaign have set a fundraising goal of $2.1 million and have raised more than $518,000, according to disclosure forms filed last week with the state. Much of the money came from a $250,000 fundraiser headlined by Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R) last fall (Tennessean, 7/13).


Bill Proposed To Protect Mass. Abortion Clinics After Supreme Court Ruling

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 17:17

A Massachusetts bill filed Monday aims to bolster security and anti-harassment protections at the state's reproductive health centers after the Supreme Court struck down its 35-foot "buffer zone" law, the New York Times reports.

Bill Proposed To Protect Mass. Abortion Clinics After Supreme Court Ruling

July 15, 2014 — A Massachusetts bill filed Monday aims to bolster security and anti-harassment protections at the state's reproductive health centers after the Supreme Court struck down its 35-foot "buffer zone" law, the New York Times reports (Bidgood, New York Times, 7/14).

The buffer zone law, enacted in 2007, only permitted people to enter a 35-foot zone around abortion clinics to access the facility itself or reach another destination. In striking down the law, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that "buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve [Massachusetts'] asserted interests" (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/7).

New Legislation Details

The new bill, filed by state Sen. Harriette Chandler (D), would give law enforcement personnel the authority to give dispersal orders if two or more protesters deliberately prevent patients or staff members from entering a clinic. Individuals who receive such orders would be required to stay at least 25 feet away from the clinic's entrance for up to eight hours.

The bill also would prohibit protesters from interfering with vehicles approaching or leaving the area, as well as intimidating or harming people accessing the clinic.

Bill Aims To Address Free-Speech Issues

The bill's supporters said it would not create a new buffer zone but instead would bolster existing public safety laws and create new ones (LeBlanc, AP/MassLive, 7/14).

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, said the measure "is a much more narrowly focused bill" than the previous law. He noted that it "prohibits obstruction of access" not "expression of free speech," which the Supreme Court focused on in its ruling.

However, Patricia Stewart, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, said the "25-foot dispersal area seems to be another name for a buffer zone," which could prompt "a further constitutional challenge" (New York Times 7/14).


Senate Considers Abortion-Rights Bill as New Report Spotlights Nationwide Impact of State Laws

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 16:04

A Senate hearing on Tuesday spotlighted how state laws interfere with women's reproductive rights as lawmakers review a bill (S 1696, HR 3471) designed to block laws that hinder abortion rights, CQ Roll Call reports.

Senate Considers Abortion-Rights Bill as New Report Spotlights Nationwide Impact of State Laws

July 15, 2014 — A Senate hearing on Tuesday spotlighted how state laws interfere with women's reproductive rights as lawmakers review a bill (S 1696, HR 3471) designed to block laws that hinder abortion rights, CQ Roll Call reports (Margetta, CQ Roll Call, 7/14).

The hearing comes as a new report from the National Partnership for Women & Families finds that many states have enacted antiabortion-rights laws that require physicians to offer care in ways that go against medical standards.

According to the report, 33 states have adopted laws that go against medical evidence and prioritize political beliefs over women's health care, including unnecessary ultrasound requirements, biased counseling, mandatory delays in abortion care and medication abortion restrictions. The report found that 16 states have all four types of laws.

Hearing Details

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing focused on legislation that aims to protect abortion rights. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) were expected to testify (Villacorta, "Pulse," Politico, 7/15).

The bill, called the Women's Health Protection Act, would prevent states from imposing restrictions on abortion providers "that are more burdensome than those restrictions imposed on medically comparable procedures." It also would prohibit states from banning abortion prior to viability or when a doctor believes that continuing the pregnancy would harm a woman's health.

The bill also would establish guidelines for judges reviewing the constitutionality of states' laws (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/14/13). According to The Hill, the bill has 35 co-sponsors (Viebeck, The Hill, 7/14).

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, said that the hearing "show[s] the Senate vividly, dramatically what the practical impacts are of these illegal restrictions that so drastically burden ... women's right to reproductive health care" (CQ Roll Call, 7/14).

Meanwhile, National Right to Life Committee President Carol Tobias, who was also scheduled to testify at the hearing, said the bill would "impose nationwide the extreme ideological doctrine that elective abortion must not be limited in any meaningful way, at any stage of pregnancy" (The Hill, 7/14).


Blogs Comment on 'Bad Medicine' of State Abortion Restrictions, Paid Leave, More

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 15:26

We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from "ThinkProgress," MSNBC and more.

Blogs Comment on 'Bad Medicine' of State Abortion Restrictions, Paid Leave, More

July 15, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from "ThinkProgress," MSNBC and more.

PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: "How Bad Medicine is Sweeping the Country, One State at a Time," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "[A] wave of anti-choice legislation has completely reoriented the women's health landscape, ensuring that medical professionals are forced to ignore their best judgment in order to remain compliant with the law, according to a new report from the National Partnership for Women & Families," Culp-Ressler writes. The report focuses on four types of laws that have no scientific justification, including "unnecessary ultrasound requirements, biased counseling sessions, mandatory waiting periods, and regulations on the abortion pill," Culp-Ressler explains. According to the report, 33 states have adopted at least one of these laws, while 16 have passed all four types (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/14).

What others are saying about protecting reproductive rights:

~ "An Opportunity for Congress To Stand Up for Women," Nancy Northup, MSNBC.

~ "Map of the Day: 'Bad Medicine' Laws Undermine Reproductive Health Care Across the Country," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.

~ "Should Abortion Be 'Rare'?'" Fran Moreland Johns, Huffington Post blogs.

SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES: "Why Does the U.S. Rank Dead Last in Paid Time Off for New Parents?" Judy Molland, Care2: The "U.S. is the last remaining industrialized nation to offer only unpaid parental leave to workers," Molland writes, citing a chart on the parental leave policies of 38 industrialized nations that was compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The U.S., along with Mexico, offers certain workers 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave, "which is the smallest amount of leave protection related to the birth of a child among these 38 countries," Molland adds. However, 63% of U.S. residents support the idea of parental leave, according to a 2012 report. Molland writes, "The U.S. needs to get in line with the rest of the industrialized world" (Molland, Care2, 7/14).

What others are saying about supporting working families:

~ "EEOC to Employers: Stop Discriminating Against Pregnant Workers," Brigid Schulte/Nia-Malika Henderson, Washington Post's "She The People."

CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Tennessee Arrests First Mother Under Its New Pregnancy Criminalization Law," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler discusses the case of 26-year-old Mallory Loyola who is "the first woman to be arrested under a new law [SB 1391] in Tennessee that allows the state to criminally charge mothers for potentially causing harm to their fetuses by using drugs." The measure took effect this month and "stipulates that 'a woman may be prosecuted for assault for the illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant, if her child is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug.'" However, Culp-Ressler explains that "this may not actually apply to Loyola's case" because there is no evidence that Loyola "either used a narcotic drug or caused harm to her newborn child" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/11).

What others are saying about criminalizing pregnancy:

~ "Rick Perry’s 'Pro-Life' Hypocrisy: How Texas Puts Pregnant Women at Risk," Katie McDonough, Salon.

~ "Pregnant Texas Woman Denied Methadone Treatment in Jail Released to Home Monitoring," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.

ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Repro Wrap: Anti-Abortion Activists Lose Eugenics Talking Point and Other News," Robin Marty, Care2: While antiabortion-rights activists claim that "[a]bortion providers prey on communities of color" and use "birth control and abortion as a eugenics plot," new research from the Guttmacher Institute shows that "abortion clinics actually aren't more prevalent in minority communities," Marty writes. The report found that fewer than one in 10 abortion providers are located in areas where the majority of residents are black, while about 13% are located in areas with mostly Hispanic residents (Marty, Care2, 7/11).

SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: "Ronald Lee Haskell Has a History of Domestic Violence. How Did He Get a Gun?" Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": Marcotte discusses the case of Ronald Lee Haskell, who "allegedly broke into his former sister-in-law's home in Spring, Texas and killed her, her husband, and four of her five children." She notes that media coverage of the event suggests that "the spree appears to have been Haskell's attempt to get revenge on his ex-wife's family." Marcotte continues, "To no one's great surprise, Haskell had been arrested for domestic violence in 2008, and his ex-wife filed a protective order against him in 2013." According to Marcotte, the events "lea[d] to the question: Considering the laws put in place, both on federal and state levels, to prevent domestic abusers from getting guns, how did Haskell get one?" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 7/11).

What others are saying about sexual and gender-based violence:

~ "There is No Such Thing as a 'Classic Rapist,'" Ximena Ramirez, Care2.

~ "People are Awful: #JusticeForJada Leads to More Cyberbullying and Hobart and William Smith Colleges' Football Priorities," Viv Smythe, Feministe.