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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Judge Hears Oral Arguments Over Okla. Admitting Privileges Law

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 17:31

An Oklahoma County District Judge on Friday heard oral arguments in a lawsuit against a state law (SB 1848) requiring all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, the Oklahoman reports.

Judge Hears Oral Arguments Over Okla. Admitting Privileges Law

October 20, 2014 — An Oklahoma County District Judge on Friday heard oral arguments in a lawsuit against a state law (SB 1848) requiring all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, the Oklahoman reports (Clay, Oklahoman, 10/18).

The law is scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1. It also requires the state health board to develop operational standards for clinics that perform abortions.

Background

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of physician Larry Burns, who performs about half the abortions in the state and is one of just three abortion providers in Oklahoma.

According to the latest suit, Burns will be forced to close his clinic when the law takes effect because he has not been able to obtain admitting privileges at any of the 16 hospitals in qualifying distance of his clinic.

CRR argued that the law violates constitutional rights of equal protection and due process and that it violates a requirement that all bills in the state address only one topic (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/6).

Oral Argument Details

CRR attorney Ilene Jaroslaw urged Judge Bill Graves to issue an injunction blocking the law from taking effect.

Jaroslaw said that Burns had applied and been rejected for admitting privileges at 16 hospitals and had made "diligent efforts" to comply with the requirement.

According to Jaroslaw, two of the hospitals rejected Burns' application because he could not guarantee that his facility would admit at least six patients annually. Jaroslaw said that was indicative of Burns' high quality of care and that he "has an impeccable health record."

Jaroslaw argued that the law's requirements are "very onerous" and unconstitutionally require abortion providers to adhere to the admitting privileges requirement despite the fact that many other doctors perform more risky procedures but are not required to obtain admitting privileges (Talley, AP/Durant Democrat, 10/19). She added that the measure could result in the state's other two clinics -- in Tulsa and Oklahoma City -- having appointment backlogs, if the clinics would be able to remain open at all (Oklahoman, 10/18).

Meanwhile, state Assistant Attorney General Dan Weitman argued that the law was constitutional. He said Burns had waited more than 50 days after the measure was signed into law prior to beginning to seek the required admitting privileges.

Next Steps

Graves said he would issue a ruling on whether to temporarily block the law by next week (AP/Durant Democrat, 10/19).

According to the Oklahoman, Graves is a former state representative who supported several antiabortion-rights measures while in the state Legislature (Oklahoman, 10/18).


Judge Hears Oral Arguments Over Okla. Admitting Privileges Law

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 16:03

An Oklahoma County District Judge on Friday heard oral arguments in a lawsuit against a state law (SB 1848) requiring all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, the Oklahoman reports.

Judge Hears Oral Arguments Over Okla. Admitting Privileges Law

October 20, 2014 — An Oklahoma County District Judge on Friday heard oral arguments in a lawsuit against a state law (SB 1848) requiring all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, the Oklahoman reports (Clay, Oklahoman, 10/18).

The law is scheduled to take effect on Nov. 1. It also requires the state health board to develop operational standards for clinics that perform abortions.

Background

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of physician Larry Burns, who performs about half the abortions in the state and is one of just three abortion providers in Oklahoma.

According to the latest suit, Burns will be forced to close his clinic when the law takes effect because he has not been able to obtain admitting privileges at any of the 16 hospitals in qualifying distance of his clinic.

CRR argued that the law violates constitutional rights of equal protection and due process and that it violates a requirement that all bills in the state address only one topic (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/6).

Oral Argument Details

CRR attorney Ilene Jaroslaw urged Judge Bill Graves to issue an injunction blocking the law from taking effect.

Jaroslaw said that Burns had applied and been rejected for admitting privileges at 16 hospitals and had made "diligent efforts" to comply with the requirement.

According to Jaroslaw, two of the hospitals rejected Burns' application because he could not guarantee that his facility would admit at least six patients annually. Jaroslaw said that was indicative of Burns' high quality of care and that he "has an impeccable health record."

Jaroslaw argued that the law's requirements are "very onerous" and unconstitutionally require abortion providers to adhere to the admitting privileges requirement despite the fact that many other doctors perform more risky procedures but are not required to obtain admitting privileges (Talley, AP/Durant Democrat, 10/19). She added that the measure could result in the state's other two clinics -- in Tulsa and Oklahoma City -- having appointment backlogs, if the clinics would be able to remain open at all (Oklahoman, 10/18).

Meanwhile, state Assistant Attorney General Dan Weitman argued that the law was constitutional. He said Burns had waited more than 50 days after the measure was signed into law prior to beginning to seek the required admitting privileges.

Next Steps

Graves said he would issue a ruling on whether to temporarily block the law by next week (AP/Durant Democrat, 10/19).

According to the Oklahoman, Graves is a former state representative who supported several antiabortion-rights measures while in the state Legislature (Oklahoman, 10/18).


LA Times Op-Ed: Over-the-Counter Birth Control Should Not Come at the Expense of Insurance Coverage

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 15:40

Ensuring comprehensive insurance coverage for contraceptives and making birth control pills available over the counter "shouldn't be an either/or debate," Daniel Grossman, vice president of research at Ibis Reproductive Health and a clinical professor at the University of California-San Francisco, writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece.

LA Times Op-Ed: Over-the-Counter Birth Control Should Not Come at the Expense of Insurance Coverage

October 20, 2014 — Ensuring comprehensive insurance coverage for contraceptives and making birth control pills available over the counter "shouldn't be an either/or debate," Daniel Grossman, vice president of research at Ibis Reproductive Health and a clinical professor at the University of California-San Francisco, writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece.

Grossman notes that the issue has drawn increased attention amid conservative candidates' proposals to allow OTC sales of "birth control pills as an alternative to the contraceptive coverage guarantee built into" the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148). Meanwhile, Democrats "emphasize the importance of maintaining the contraceptive coverage guarantee in Obamacare," he writes.

Grossman explains that even though birth control pills have "not yet been approved for over-the-counter sale, most of the medical establishment is in favor of that outcome" and agrees it is a safe option. In addition, reliable studies "show that women can use simple checklists to determine on their own whether the pill is right for them, and that when they can obtain the pill without a prescription, they stay on it longer than if they have to keep getting a prescription renewed." Further, public opinion polling has found that U.S. women support nonprescription access to birth control pills. However, women have concerns that birth control would be costly without insurance coverage, according to Grossman.

Grossman argues, "The best policy, the one that would help women effectively meet their family planning needs and reduce the high rate of unintended pregnancy in this country, is over-the-counter availability and insurance coverage for birth control pills," as well as "coverage for all other contraceptives approved by" FDA.

Grossman notes that while OTC birth control pills are likely "still several years down the road ... the apparent agreement among liberals and conservatives about the merits of moving the birth control pill over the counter is cause for excitement." Still, Grossman cautions that "constructive policy change" should only be made "as long as the gains made in one kind of access aren't undercut by losses in another" (Grossman, Los Angeles Times, 10/18).


NYT Column: City's Pregnant Workers Fairness Act 'A Big Step Forward,' But Issues Remain

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:47

New York City's Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (Int 0974-2012), signed into law one year ago, "represents a big step forward for working women," but "pregnant women are still being pushed out of jobs they desperately need," New York Times columnist Rachel Swarns writes.

NYT Column: City's Pregnant Workers Fairness Act 'A Big Step Forward,' But Issues Remain

October 20, 2014 — New York City's Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (Int 0974-2012), signed into law one year ago, "represents a big step forward for working women," but "pregnant women are still being pushed out of jobs they desperately need," New York Times columnist Rachel Swarns writes.

The law, which took effect in January, "requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers -- such as providing rest and water breaks, modified schedules and light duty -- so long as the accommodations don't cause undue hardship for the employer," Swarns explains. Such accommodations are "critical, particularly for low-income women who sometimes get pushed out of their jobs -- and into poverty -- when they become pregnant," she writes.

During the law's first year, city officials and women's advocates have been working with business groups, health care providers and other relevant parties "to ensure that women know their rights and employers know their obligations under the statute," Swarn continues.

Continued Challenges

However, not all women have been made aware of their rights, and others continue to face barriers to working during pregnancy. Swarns details the story of Angelica Valencia, who had previously experienced a miscarriage and was told by her physician when she became pregnant again to work a maximum of eight hours per day. Valencia, whose employer wanted her to work overtime, "had no idea that the law existed" and "said her company never informed her of her rights, even though that is required," according to Swarns.

Valencia provided a doctor's note and co-workers agreed to help with tasks like lifting that she could not safely perform. However, her supervisors informed her that "she could not work without a full-duty medical clearance," and she left the job, Swarns writes.

Swarns notes that Valencia is now being represented by A Better Balance, a legal advocacy group, to help her "recoup the wages she lost." Further, like other women who have successfully received pregnancy-related accommodations or regained their jobs as a result of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Valencia "knows now that the law is on her side," Swarns adds (Swarns, New York Times, 10/19).


Policymakers Must 'Stand Up' to Gun Lobby To Stop Domestic Violence, Advocate Argues

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:19

To help protect women from gun violence, the U.S. needs "legislators who are willing to stand up to the gun lobby," Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense founder Shannon Watts writes in a Daily Beast opinion piece.

Policymakers Must 'Stand Up' to Gun Lobby To Stop Domestic Violence, Advocate Argues

October 20, 2014 — To help protect women from gun violence, the U.S. needs "legislators who are willing to stand up to the gun lobby," Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense founder Shannon Watts writes in a Daily Beast opinion piece.

Watts notes that "an average of 48 American women are shot to death by a current or former intimate partner" monthly, but 38% "fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners" in states that require background checks to be performed on every person seeking to purchase a handgun. She adds, "[M]illions of guns are sold every year without a background check, so the ease with which a prohibited purchaser can buy a gun in this country is hard to overstate."

Watts also calls on policymakers to take stronger action to "prevent abusive dating partners or convicted stalkers from purchasing a firearm." She explains that more U.S. women die annually "at the hands of dating partners rather than spouses," but federal laws restricting gun purchases by abusers do not apply to non-spouses in most circumstances.

While lawmakers in some states have "achieved significant victories" in addressing gun violence this year, Watts argues that "[t]he best thing we can do for survivors of domestic violence is to provide them with avenues of support and ensure that the laws don't make their lives harder or more dangerous."

To do so, the U.S. "need[s] leaders at every level -- state, local and federal -- to understand the lives of women matter more than their NRA rating," Watts writes. She concludes, "We must enact the reforms necessary to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and that work begins with our vote on November 4" (Watts, Daily Beast, 10/16).


Lawmakers Should 'Get Behind Teen Pregnancy Prevention Efforts,' Editorial Argues

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:16

The teen pregnancy rate is at a historic low because teenagers have access to "more complete sex education and better access to and use of contraceptives" than in the past, according to a Charlotte Observer editorial.

Lawmakers Should 'Get Behind Teen Pregnancy Prevention Efforts,' Editorial Argues

October 20, 2014 — The teen pregnancy rate is at a historic low because teenagers have access to "more complete sex education and better access to and use of contraceptives" than in the past, according to a Charlotte Observer editorial.

Over the last 25 years, the teen pregnancy rate has been "cut in half nationwide and by more than half in some 20 states, including North Carolina." The editorial notes that "[t]he same percentage of kids are having sex, but dramatically fewer are getting pregnant," in part because more of them are "using contraceptives and using them correctly."

The Observer argues that it is "important to understand what's working, so we can continue it and not undercut it." For example, the North Carolina Legislature in 2009 "changed public schools' curriculum from abstinence-only to a more comprehensive education, including teaching about contraceptives."

The state Legislature "should get behind teen pregnancy prevention efforts," the editorial argues, adding, "Policymakers should help keep driving that number down to nearly zero by further empowering the teens themselves" (Charlotte Observer, 10/16).


NYT Op-Ed Notes Medical Limitations of Egg Freezing

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:14

Apple and Facebook's decision to "include egg freezing in their benefits packages" spurred debate "over egg freezing's role in women's careers," but "there has been less talk about the still serious limitations of the medical procedure," author Sarah Richards writes in a New York Times opinion piece.

NYT Op-Ed Notes Medical Limitations of Egg Freezing

October 20, 2014 — Apple and Facebook's decision to "include egg freezing in their benefits packages" spurred debate "over egg freezing's role in women's careers," but "there has been less talk about the still serious limitations of the medical procedure," author Sarah Richards writes in a New York Times opinion piece.

Richards notes that amid all the reactions to the decision, "[w]e are forgetting an essential fact: Egg freezing isn't going to work for all women." According to Richards, the procedure's success rate "varies according to the expertise of doctors and the quality of eggs, but even the best fertility centers report that a woman's chance of pregnancy per embryo transferred to the uterus is between 30 and 50 percent."

Further, she notes that while the "American Society for Reproductive Medicine removed the experimental label from the procedure in 2012, [it] still doesn't recommend it to healthy women who simply want to delay childbearing."

While Richards believes that women "should take advantage of every opportunity to freeze" their eggs if they "are anxious to preserve their fertility" and that more companies will likely "follow Facebook and Apple's example," she cautions that women "should never forget" the procedure's "power to disappoint" (Richards, New York Times, 10/16).


Featured Blogs

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 16:50

"Polling Confirms That Voters See Abortion Access as an Economic Issue for Women," (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/16); "Pregnant Texans are Being Charged With Crimes That Don't Exist," (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 10/16).

October 17, 2014

FEATURED BLOG

"Polling Confirms That Voters See Abortion Access as an Economic Issue for Women," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": A majority of voters see abortion "as a mainstream policy that's inextricably linked to women's financial stability," according to a new poll released by the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Culp-Ressler writes. The poll surveyed "voters in New York and Pennsylvania, both states where lawmakers have proposed broad legislative agendas with several policies intended to advance women's rights." The findings suggest that the "legislative agendas were very popular with voters in both" states, with many of them saying "they see abortion as one piece of the larger push to help women lead fuller lives," Culp-Ressler notes. According to NIRH President Andrea Miller, the results also "should be a 'wake up call for elected officials' who insist on separating abortion issues from financial issues, even though that's out of step with their constituents' views on the subject," Culp-Ressler writes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/16).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions and access:

~ "The Hidden Costs of Abortion Restrictions," Carole Joffe, RH Reality Check.

~ "This Year's Most Outrageous Anti-Abortion Strategy," Dahlia Lithwick, Slate's "Jurisprudence."

~ "Supreme Court Surprises Everyone, Allows Texas Abortion Clinics To Reopen. For Now." Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."

FEATURED BLOG

"Pregnant Texans are Being Charged With Crimes That Don't Exist," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: Despite Texas' "fetal homicide" law clearly stating that a "pregnant person cannot be charged with injury to [her] own fetus," prosecutors in West Texas have not stopped "charging women with reckless child endangerment for ingesting controlled substances while pregnant," Grimes writes. Grimes notes that while "these erroneous [child] endangerment charges don't stick," women "are nearly always persuaded to plead guilty to possession or other drug-related offenses, which often carry heftier penalties of incarceration" and that "judges may take the child endangerment charges into consideration as well." Grimes writes that these "attempts to criminalize pregnancy in Texas could not only break up families by forcing pregnant women into prisons and children into foster care; they could be the starting point for a new strike on reproductive rights across the state" (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 10/16).

Pittsburgh Approves Workplace Protections for Pregnant City Employees

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 16:45

Pittsburgh's City Council last week passed a measure (Ordinance 2014-0809) that will expand workplace protections for city workers who are pregnant, the Pittsburgh City Paper reports.

Pittsburgh Approves Workplace Protections for Pregnant City Employees

October 17, 2014 — Pittsburgh's City Council last week passed a measure (Ordinance 2014-0809) that will expand workplace protections for city workers who are pregnant, the Pittsburgh City Paper reports.

The ordinance will require the city and contractors that hold more than $250,000 in city contracts to facilitate "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant employees, such as access to drinking water, unpaid breaks and allowing employees to sit while working.

The measure applies to more than 800 city employees and an undetermined amount of contract workers, according to Pittsburgh City Councilor Dan Gilman, one of the measure's co-sponsors. Although the ordinance applies only to city employees and contractors, the City Paper notes that the ordinance could spur similar safeguards at the state level and spark larger conversations about factors related to working during and after pregnancy.

Gilman noted, "The number of complaints being filed [against employers] by women across Pennsylvania was on the rise," adding that he hopes the ordinance "sends a message to pregnant women that they have rights in the workplace."

Meanwhile, state Sen. Matt Smith (D), who sponsored a similar measure in the state Legislature, said reasonable accommodation measures are "a great first step before moving on to addressing other issues facing women in the workplace" (Nuttall, Pittsburgh City Paper, 10/15).


Supporters, Opponents of Abortion Rights Disagree Over Potential Effects of Colorado 'Personhood' Amendment

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 16:44

Opponents of a proposed "personhood" amendment (Amendment 67) in Colorado say the ballot measure could further restrict abortion rights, contrary to the claims of many supporters of the measure, Colorado Public Radio reports.

Supporters, Opponents of Abortion Rights Disagree Over Potential Effects of Colorado 'Personhood' Amendment

October 17, 2014 — Opponents of a proposed "personhood" amendment (Amendment 67) in Colorado say the ballot measure could further restrict abortion rights, contrary to the claims of many supporters of the measure, Colorado Public Radio reports (Verlee, Colorado Public Radio, 10/15).

The ballot initiative will ask Colorado voters whether the state's constitution should be amended so that "the words 'person' and 'child' in the Colorado Criminal Code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act must include unborn human beings" (Amendment 67 text, 3/13/13).

Supporters, Opponents Disagree About Potential Impact

Coloradans have rejected a personhood measure twice before, in 2008 and 2010. However, some supporters of the amendment contend that this year's would not affect abortion or other medical services, according to Colorado Public Radio.

Opponents of the amendment counter that the measure could be used to classify post-fertilization medical procedures -- including abortions and in vitro fertilization -- as homicide.

Christina Aguilar, director of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, said, "Amendment 67 is written in language that tries to trick us. It would criminalize women and outlaw all abortion."

In addition, opponents point out that Colorado Right to Life appears to agree with their interpretation of the measure. The antiabortion-rights group states on its website that "the Brady Amendment 67 makes abortion a criminal offense."

Further, abortion-rights supporters argue that the ballot measure would set a dangerous legal standard that could undermine a pregnant woman's rights. Advocates for Pregnant Women Director Lynn Paltrow said, "As soon as you empower state actors and others, including physicians and husbands, to act as if the fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus is already outside of the woman's body, they can do almost anything they want to her" (Colorado Public Radio, 10/15).


Supporters, Opponents of Abortion Rights Disagree Over Potential Effects of Colorado 'Personhood' Amendment

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 16:26

Opponents of a proposed "personhood" amendment (Amendment 67) in Colorado say the ballot measure could further restrict abortion rights, contrary to the claims of many supporters of the measure, Colorado Public Radio reports.

Supporters, Opponents of Abortion Rights Disagree Over Potential Effects of Colorado 'Personhood' Amendment

October 17, 2014 — Opponents of a proposed "personhood" amendment (Amendment 67) in Colorado say the ballot measure could further restrict abortion rights, contrary to the claims of many supporters of the measure, Colorado Public Radio reports (Verlee, Colorado Public Radio, 10/15).

The ballot initiative will ask Colorado voters whether the state's constitution should be amended so that "the words 'person' and 'child' in the Colorado Criminal Code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act must include unborn human beings" (Amendment 67 text, 3/13/13).

Supporters, Opponents Disagree About Potential Impact

Coloradans have rejected a personhood measure twice before, in 2008 and 2010. However, some supporters of the amendment contend that this year's would not affect abortion or other medical services, according to Colorado Public Radio.

Opponents of the amendment counter that the measure could be used to classify post-fertilization medical procedures -- including abortions and in vitro fertilization -- as homicide.

Christina Aguilar, director of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, said, "Amendment 67 is written in language that tries to trick us. It would criminalize women and outlaw all abortion."

In addition, opponents point out that Colorado Right to Life appears to agree with their interpretation of the measure. The antiabortion-rights group states on its website that "the Brady Amendment 67 makes abortion a criminal offense."

Further, abortion-rights supporters argue that the ballot measure would set a dangerous legal standard that could undermine a pregnant woman's rights. Advocates for Pregnant Women Director Lynn Paltrow said, "As soon as you empower state actors and others, including physicians and husbands, to act as if the fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus is already outside of the woman's body, they can do almost anything they want to her" (Colorado Public Radio, 10/15).


Blogs Comment on 'Abortion Access as an Economic Issue,' Reproductive Justice Agenda, More

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 15:08

Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Center for American Progress, RH Reality Check and more.

Blogs Comment on 'Abortion Access as an Economic Issue,' Reproductive Justice Agenda, More

October 17, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Center for American Progress, RH Reality Check and more.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS AND ACCESS: "Polling Confirms That Voters See Abortion Access as an Economic Issue for Women," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": A majority of voters see abortion "as a mainstream policy that's inextricably linked to women's financial stability," according to a new poll released by the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Culp-Ressler writes. The poll surveyed "voters in New York and Pennsylvania, both states where lawmakers have proposed broad legislative agendas with several policies intended to advance women's rights." The findings suggest that the "legislative agendas were very popular with voters in both" states, with many of them saying "they see abortion as one piece of the larger push to help women lead fuller lives," Culp-Ressler notes. According to NIRH President Andrea Miller, the results also "should be a 'wake up call for elected officials' who insist on separating abortion issues from financial issues, even though that's out of step with their constituents' views on the subject," Culp-Ressler writes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/16).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions and access:

~ "The Hidden Costs of Abortion Restrictions," Carole Joffe, RH Reality Check.

~ "This Year's Most Outrageous Anti-Abortion Strategy," Dahlia Lithwick, Slate's "Jurisprudence."

~ "Supreme Court Surprises Everyone, Allows Texas Abortion Clinics To Reopen. For Now." Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."

CONTRACEPTION: "U.S. Taxpayers Save $7 for Every Dollar the Government Spends on Family Planning," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Publicly funded family planning programs "'resulted in net government savings of $13.6 billion in 2010, or $7.09 for every public dollar spent,'" primarily by "averting costly medical expenses," such as potential Medicaid spending "for abortions, for miscarriages, or for maternity and infant care," among other costs, according to a new Guttmacher Institute analysis, Culp-Ressler writes. Culp-Ressler notes that the findings "are relevant to the larger health policy debate, too, since Obamacare's contraceptive coverage requirement seeks to expand exactly these type[s] of preventative services to privately insured women across the country." However, she writes that "[d]espite the well-documented benefits of family planning programs, states continue to slash funding in this area as women's health issues have become a politicized issue" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/15).

CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Pregnant Texans are Being Charged With Crimes That Don't Exist," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: Despite Texas' "fetal homicide" law clearly stating that a "pregnant person cannot be charged with injury to [her] own fetus," prosecutors in West Texas have not stopped "charging women with reckless child endangerment for ingesting controlled substances while pregnant," Grimes writes. Grimes notes that while "these erroneous [child] endangerment charges don't stick," women "are nearly always persuaded to plead guilty to possession or other drug-related offenses, which often carry heftier penalties of incarceration" and that "judges may take the child endangerment charges into consideration as well." Grimes writes that these "attempts to criminalize pregnancy in Texas could not only break up families by forcing pregnant women into prisons and children into foster care; they could be the starting point for a new strike on reproductive rights across the state" (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 10/16).

REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: "Announcing the National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda," Linda Goler Blount et al., RH Reality Check: Black Women's Health Imperative President and CEO Goler Blount, alongside several other representatives from reproductive justice groups, announces the formation of "In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, an organizational initiative designed to amplify and lift up the voices of Black women at national and regional levels in our ongoing fight to secure reproductive justice for all women and girls." The authors write that the initiative will use a human-rights perspective to "focus on abortion rights and access, contraceptive equity, and comprehensive sex education." They add, "For us, reproductive justice is the human right to control our bodies, our sexuality, our gender, our work, and our reproduction," which "can only be achieved when all women and girls have the complete economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, our families, and our communities in all areas of our lives" (Goler Blount et al., RH Reality Check, 10/14).

WORKPLACE POLICIES: "Is Freezing Eggs the Best Way To Help Women in Careers?" Robin Marty, Care2: Marty considers whether it is a "good thing" that Facebook and Apple have "added egg freezing as a part of their employee benefits package, making this massively expensive medical procedure something that can now be in reach for even more people." She writes, "Freezing eggs should be available to anyone, regardless of [her] bank account, if that person wants to ensure the ability to be pregnant with her own genetic child years down the road." However, she also notes that "we ... need to have a family friendly change in workplace policies that doesn't punish a woman as soon as she becomes a mother." The "egg freezing policy, though laudable, continues to imply that work and motherhood can't go hand in hand," she writes (Marty, Care2, 10/15).

What others are saying about workplace policies:

~ "Freezing Eggs as Part of Employee Benefits: Some Women See Darker Message," Claire Cain Miller, New York Times' "The Upshot."

~ "In 2014, Companies are Still Asking Their Employees To Choose Between Work and Family," Allison O'Kelly, Huffington Post blogs.

MISCARRIAGE: "5 Ways Pregnancy After a Miscarriage is Different," Meredith Hale, Huffington Post blogs: In recognition of Oct. 15, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, Hale recounts a miscarriage she experienced, calling it a "scar that never fully fades," adding that it was "surprisingly" more difficult to be pregnant after the loss. She lists "reasons why being pregnant after a miscarriage is different," such as the "[f]ear of the unknown" and "[m]orning sickness envy." She writes, "I'm glad that there's a day to shine a light on this issue -- for people to acknowledge and share their sadness about such a difficult subject," adding that this "openness" helped her after her miscarriage and will hopefully "help others to know that there's light -- and even hope -- beyond the darkness" (Hale, Huffington Post blogs, 10/15).


Publicly Funded Family Planning Make Sense for Families, Taxpayers, Columnist Argues

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 14:34

It is a "delusion" to think "that we can get entire classes of Americans to practice abstinence until they're financially ready for marriage and children," which is one reason "why subsidies for family planning services make a good deal of sense," Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell writes.

Publicly Funded Family Planning Make Sense for Families, Taxpayers, Columnist Argues

October 17, 2014 — It is a "delusion" to think "that we can get entire classes of Americans to practice abstinence until they're financially ready for marriage and children," which is one reason "why subsidies for family planning services make a good deal of sense," Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell writes.

Rampell argues that policies that restrict access to birth control, fail to "even teach kids how contraception works," block abortion access and "offe[r] little assistance" to single mothers seem to be based on the "logic" that "[i]f only we make it harder for people to have access to family planning services, and financially painful to raise children who predictably result from sex in the absence of those services, people who cannot afford to raise children will choose celibacy."

Such beliefs are "magical thinking," she writes, citing data that almost nine in 10 unmarried young adults have had sex, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Public funding for family planning should include "not only financial access to contraception but also education about how it works," Rampell continues, noting that "[s]tudy after study has documented astounding amounts of confusion and misinformation about baby-making." Further, there is "a huge return on investment, not just for families but for the public," when the government supports family planning, she writes. According to research by the Guttmacher Institute, "every $1 invested in helping women avoid pregnancies they didn't want saved $5.68 in Medicaid expenditures that otherwise would have been needed," Rampell writes.

Improving access to family planning "is about giving low-income women the same control over when, and with whom, they have children, as is afforded to their higher-income sisters," she concludes (Rampell, Washington Post, 10/16).


Pittsburgh Approves Workplace Protections for Pregnant City Employees

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 14:20

Pittsburgh's City Council last week passed a measure (Ordinance 2014-0809) that will expand workplace protections for city workers who are pregnant, the Pittsburgh City Paper reports.

Pittsburgh Approves Workplace Protections for Pregnant City Employees

October 17, 2014 — Pittsburgh's City Council last week passed a measure (Ordinance 2014-0809) that will expand workplace protections for city workers who are pregnant, the Pittsburgh City Paper reports.

The ordinance will require the city and contractors that hold more than $250,000 in city contracts to facilitate "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant employees, such as access to drinking water, unpaid breaks and allowing employees to sit while working.

The measure applies to more than 800 city employees and an undetermined amount of contract workers, according to Pittsburgh City Councilor Dan Gilman, one of the measure's co-sponsors. Although the ordinance applies only to city employees and contractors, the City Paper notes that the ordinance could spur similar safeguards at the state level and spark larger conversations about factors related to working during and after pregnancy.

Gilman noted, "The number of complaints being filed [against employers] by women across Pennsylvania was on the rise," adding that he hopes the ordinance "sends a message to pregnant women that they have rights in the workplace."

Meanwhile, state Sen. Matt Smith (D), who sponsored a similar measure in the state Legislature, said reasonable accommodation measures are "a great first step before moving on to addressing other issues facing women in the workplace" (Nuttall, Pittsburgh City Paper, 10/15).


Video Round Up: Supreme Court Order Allows Texas Clinics To Resume Abortions, Steps Taken To Reduce Rape Kit Backlog, More

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 14:06

In today's clips, the Center for Reproductive Rights' Nancy Northup explains the significance of a Supreme Court order that allows more than a dozen Texas abortion clinics to resume services. Meanwhile, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Natasha's Justice Project founder Natasha Alexenko talk about what needs to be done to reduce rape kit backlogs throughout the U.S.

Video Round Up: Supreme Court Order Allows Texas Clinics To Resume Abortions, Steps Taken To Reduce Rape Kit Backlog, More

October 17, 2014 — In today's clips, the Center for Reproductive Rights' Nancy Northup explains the significance of a Supreme Court order that allows more than a dozen Texas abortion clinics to resume services. Meanwhile, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Natasha's Justice Project founder Natasha Alexenko talk about what needs to be done to reduce rape kit backlogs throughout the U.S.



Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup talks with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about the Supreme Court's stay of parts of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) that allows 13 state clinics to resume services. Northup calls the ruling "extraordinary" and "exactly what we wanted from the Supreme Court right now" (Maddow, "The Rachel Maddow Show," MSNBC, 10/14).




Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Natasha's Justice Project founder Natasha Alexenko discuss the importance of the recently passed Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act (HR 4323) with MSNBC's Kristen Welker. The measure, which allocates more than $150 million annually to help police departments lower their rape kit backlogs, will "save lives," "save women" and "has been called the most important anti-rape bill ever to pass Congress," Maloney says. Alexenko, a rape survivor, also shares the story of how her assailant was convicted once law enforcement authorities tested her rape kit -- after more than nine years (Welker, "Andrea Mitchell Reports," MSNBC, 10/10).




MSNBC's Alex Witt talks with Savannah Badalich, a student at UCLA and founder of the anti-sexual assault organization 7000 in Solidarity. Badalich shares her personal story and the importance of California's recently passed "yes means yes" legislation (SB 967), which sets an affirmative consent standard for sexual assault cases at colleges and universities. Badalich explains that the law means "that silence cannot be consent anymore, that the absence of a no cannot be assumed a yes" (Witt, "Weekends With Alex Witt," MSNBC, 10/4).




MSNBC's Krystal Ball criticizes an Alabama law (HB 494) that modifies parental involvement requirements for minors seeking abortions -- including by allowing a judge to appoint an attorney to represent the "interests" of the fetus -- as a "new level of absurdity and inhumanity" for antiabortion-rights activists. The law, which is being challenged in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union, aims to "publicly sham[e] and haras[s] one of the country's most vulnerable groups: young women who are seeking to exercise their constitutionally protected right to have an abortion" (Ball, "Krystal Clear," MSNBC, 10/8).

Several Texas Clinics To Resume Services After Supreme Court Order, Others Still Face Challenges

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 17:25

Several Texas abortion facilities have resumed offering abortion services after a Supreme Court order stayed parts of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2), but other clinics might face delays or stay closed amid uncertainty over the law, the AP/U-T San Diego reports.

Several Texas Clinics To Resume Services After Supreme Court Order, Others Still Face Challenges

October 16, 2014 — Several Texas abortion facilities have resumed offering abortion services after a Supreme Court order stayed parts of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2), but other clinics might face delays or stay closed amid uncertainty over the law, the AP/U-T San Diego reports (Weber, AP/U-T San Diego, 10/15).

Background

The Supreme Court order on Tuesday reversed rulings by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, placing a hold on a provision that requires abortion clinics in Texas to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and exempting abortion facilities in El Paso and McAllen from a provision that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The 5th Circuit's ruling had lifted a previous hold on the ambulatory surgical centers provision, which was originally scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1. The ruling resulted in the immediate closure of 13 clinics (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/15).

The 5th Circuit is expected to rule on the merits of the ambulatory surgical centers provision. The federal court has ordered the state and the abortion facilities that are challenging the requirement to file briefs in the case by Dec. 8 (Eckholm, New York Times, 10/15). Meanwhile, the plaintiffs could appeal the 5th Circuit's ruling on the admitting privileges provision to the Supreme Court (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/15).

Some Facilities Reopening Soon, Others Still Face Challenges 

The high court's order allowed the Texas facilities to reopen and resume services while court challenges continue.

Routh Street Women's Clinic in Dallas, which had stopped performing abortions about two weeks ago, began to schedule appointments following the high court's decision.

Clinic owner Virginia Braun said that the facility already had appointments scheduled for Thursday. She added that the clinic would have had to shut down permanently in a few weeks if it had not been allowed to resume offering abortions amid mounting bills (Eckholm, New York Times, 10/15).

According to the AP/U-T San Diego, the facility has lost several staff members, going from 17 employees to fewer than 10. Braun said of the former employees, "Some of them will come back, and some of them probably [won't]. As one person eloquently put it this morning, whiplash is no longer a sustainable life choice for her."

Meanwhile, Whole Woman's Health Founder and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said WWH's McAllen facility -- the only abortion clinic within 300 miles for some Texas women -- will resume offering abortions on Friday. However, she said that its facilities in Austin and Fort Worth would not immediately open because of financial and staffing concerns, and that it would be even more difficult to reopen its clinic in Beaumont.

Hagstrom Miller said that WWH had to lay off more than 50 employees over the past year, and that the turbulent legal situation over HB 2 had resulted in the organization taking on about $500,000 in debt in the past six months.

Meanwhile, Hilltop Women's Reproductive Services in El Paso -- the only abortion facility in West Texas -- will reopen in about a week to 10 days because of clinic renovations, according to the AP/U-T San Diego (AP/U-T San Diego, 10/15).

NYT Editorial: Supreme Court Order 'An Interim Step Toward Sanity'

"While the legal battle over [HB 2's] provisions continues, and is very likely to land back at the court before long, the [Supreme Court's] order" staying parts of the law "was a significant victory for women in Texas," a New York Times editorial states.

While the order "does not necessarily foretell how the court would rule on the merits," the Times states, "it provided hope, at least, that a majority of justices recognize the radical impact of the Texas law."

The Times states, "The Supreme Court's move was just an interim step toward sanity. This fight is far from over" (New York Times, 10/15).


L.A. Times Profiles Abortion Provider at S.D.'s Only Clinic

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 17:22

In a Los Angeles Times profile, physician Carol Ball -- medical director for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota -- discusses the difficulties she faces in providing abortion care at South Dakota's lone abortion clinic amid increasing restrictions on the procedure in the state and across the U.S.

L.A. Times Profiles Abortion Provider at S.D.'s Only Clinic

October 16, 2014 — In a Los Angeles Times profile, physician Carol Ball -- medical director for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota -- discusses the difficulties she faces in providing abortion care at South Dakota's lone abortion clinic amid increasing restrictions on the procedure in the state and across the U.S.

According to the Times, the Planned Parenthood facility in South Dakota has been unable to find in-state physicians to perform abortions, likely because of several antiabortion-rights measures that have been passed by the state legislature. The Times notes that PPMNDSD has sued state officials to block some of the measures and that the clinic has considered closing if the disputed requirements are enforceable.

Ball is one of six physicians who fly into South Dakota to work at the Planned Parenthood facility several times per month, sometimes making multiple visits per week. She also provides abortions at two clinics outside the state.

Ball said that because of the state's 72-hour mandatory delay on the procedure, many of her patients have to travel four or five hours each way to the clinic twice, in some cases accounting for more than 20 hours of travel. Ball also noted that she is required to ensure her patients are not being coerced into having an abortion and to tell them information about abortion that she considers to be "pseudo-science of the anti-choice people."

Ball said that abortion "is basic healthcare for women," adding, "One in three women have an abortion in their lifetime. How much more basic is that?" Still, she noted that recent Supreme Court decisions, like one striking down a "buffer zone" around abortion clinics in Massachusetts, make her "fee[l] very discouraged" about the future of abortion care (La Ganga, Los Angeles Times, 10/14).


Video Round Up: Supreme Court Order Allows Texas Clinics To Resume Abortions, Steps Taken To Reduce Rape Kit Backlog, Mo

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 17:03

In today's clips, the Center for Reproductive Rights' Nancy Northup explains the significance of a Supreme Court order that allows more than a dozen Texas abortion clinics to resume services. Meanwhile, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Natasha's Justice Project founder Natasha Alexenko talk about what needs to be done to reduce rape kit backlogs throughout the U.S.

Video Round Up: Supreme Court Order Allows Texas Clinics To Resume Abortions, Steps Taken To Reduce Rape Kit Backlog, More

October 16, 2014 — In today's clips, the Center for Reproductive Rights' Nancy Northup explains the significance of a Supreme Court order that allows more than a dozen Texas abortion clinics to resume services. Meanwhile, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Natasha's Justice Project founder Natasha Alexenko talk about what needs to be done to reduce rape kit backlogs throughout the U.S.



Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup talks with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow about the Supreme Court's stay of parts of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) that allows 13 state clinics to resume services. Northup calls the ruling "extraordinary" and "exactly what we wanted from the Supreme Court right now" (Maddow, "The Rachel Maddow Show," MSNBC, 10/14).




Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Natasha's Justice Project founder Natasha Alexenko discuss the importance of the recently passed Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act (HR 4323) with MSNBC's Kristen Welker. The measure, which allocates more than $150 million annually to help police departments lower their rape kit backlogs, will "save lives," "save women" and "has been called the most important anti-rape bill ever to pass Congress," Maloney says. Alexenko, a rape survivor, also shares the story of how her assailant was convicted once law enforcement authorities tested her rape kit -- after more than nine years (Welker, "Andrea Mitchell Reports," MSNBC, 10/10).




MSNBC's Alex Witt talks with Savannah Badalich, a student at UCLA and founder of the anti-sexual assault organization 7000 in Solidarity. Badalich shares her personal story and the importance of California's recently passed "yes means yes" legislation (SB 967), which sets an affirmative consent standard for sexual assault cases at colleges and universities. Badalich explains that the law means "that silence cannot be consent anymore, that the absence of a no cannot be assumed a yes" (Witt, "Weekends With Alex Witt," MSNBC, 10/4).




MSNBC's Krystal Ball criticizes an Alabama law (HB 494) that modifies parental involvement requirements for minors seeking abortions -- including by allowing a judge to appoint an attorney to represent the "interests" of the fetus -- as a "new level of absurdity and inhumanity" for antiabortion-rights activists. The law, which is being challenged in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union, aims to "publicly sham[e] and haras[s] one of the country's most vulnerable groups: young women who are seeking to exercise their constitutionally protected right to have an abortion" (Ball, "Krystal Clear," MSNBC, 10/8).

Several Texas Clinics To Resume Services After Supreme Court Order, Others Still Face Challenges

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 16:50

Several Texas abortion facilities have resumed offering abortion services after a Supreme Court order stayed parts of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2), but other clinics might face delays or stay closed amid uncertainty over the law, the AP/U-T San Diego reports.

Several Texas Clinics To Resume Services After Supreme Court Order, Others Still Face Challenges

October 16, 2014 — Several Texas abortion facilities have resumed offering abortion services after a Supreme Court order stayed parts of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2), but other clinics might face delays or stay closed amid uncertainty over the law, the AP/U-T San Diego reports (Weber, AP/U-T San Diego, 10/15).

Background

The Supreme Court order on Tuesday reversed rulings by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, placing a hold on a provision that requires abortion clinics in Texas to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and exempting abortion facilities in El Paso and McAllen from a provision that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The 5th Circuit's ruling had lifted a previous hold on the ambulatory surgical centers provision, which was originally scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1. The ruling resulted in the immediate closure of 13 clinics (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/15).

The 5th Circuit is expected to rule on the merits of the ambulatory surgical centers provision. The federal court has ordered the state and the abortion facilities that are challenging the requirement to file briefs in the case by Dec. 8 (Eckholm, New York Times, 10/15). Meanwhile, the plaintiffs could appeal the 5th Circuit's ruling on the admitting privileges provision to the Supreme Court (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/15).

Some Facilities Reopening Soon, Others Still Face Challenges 

The high court's order allowed the Texas facilities to reopen and resume services while court challenges continue.

Routh Street Women's Clinic in Dallas, which had stopped performing abortions about two weeks ago, began to schedule appointments following the high court's decision.

Clinic owner Virginia Braun said that the facility already had appointments scheduled for Thursday. She added that the clinic would have had to shut down permanently in a few weeks if it had not been allowed to resume offering abortions amid mounting bills (Eckholm, New York Times, 10/15).

According to the AP/U-T San Diego, the facility has lost several staff members, going from 17 employees to fewer than 10. Braun said of the former employees, "Some of them will come back, and some of them probably [won't]. As one person eloquently put it this morning, whiplash is no longer a sustainable life choice for her."

Meanwhile, Whole Woman's Health Founder and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said WWH's McAllen facility -- the only abortion clinic within 300 miles for some Texas women -- will resume offering abortions on Friday. However, she said that its facilities in Austin and Fort Worth would not immediately open because of financial and staffing concerns, and that it would be even more difficult to reopen its clinic in Beaumont.

Hagstrom Miller said that WWH had to lay off more than 50 employees over the past year, and that the turbulent legal situation over HB 2 had resulted in the organization taking on about $500,000 in debt in the past six months.

Meanwhile, Hilltop Women's Reproductive Services in El Paso -- the only abortion facility in West Texas -- will reopen in about a week to 10 days because of clinic renovations, according to the AP/U-T San Diego (AP/U-T San Diego, 10/15).

NYT Editorial: Supreme Court Order 'An Interim Step Toward Sanity'

"While the legal battle over [HB 2's] provisions continues, and is very likely to land back at the court before long, the [Supreme Court's] order" staying parts of the law "was a significant victory for women in Texas," a New York Times editorial states.

While the order "does not necessarily foretell how the court would rule on the merits," the Times states, "it provided hope, at least, that a majority of justices recognize the radical impact of the Texas law."

The Times states, "The Supreme Court's move was just an interim step toward sanity. This fight is far from over" (New York Times, 10/15).


Blogs Discuss 'Billions' in Savings From Publicly Funded Family Planning, Enhanced Prison Sentence for Pregnant Woman, More

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 16:21

Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Washington Post, the New Republic and more.

Blogs Discuss 'Billions' in Savings From Publicly Funded Family Planning, Enhanced Prison Sentence for Pregnant Woman, More

October 14, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Washington Post, the New Republic and more.

FAMILY PLANNING AND CONTRACEPTION: "How Family Planning Programs Save Taxpayers Billions of Dollars Each Year," Jason Millman, Washington Post's "Wonkblog": "Publicly-funded family planning services help low-income Americans avoid serious health conditions while saving billions of dollars each year," according to a new Guttmacher Institute report, Millman writes, noting that such programs "saved taxpayers $13.6 billion in 2010" by avoiding costs tied to unintended pregnancies and by providing services such as "testing for sexually transmitted infections and cervical cancer." The report serves as "a reminder that family planning services are about much more than just contraception," Millman writes. Overall, the report found that publicly funded family planning "meant a $7.09 return on investment for each public dollar spent" in 2010 on such services, Millman adds (Millman, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 10/14).

What others are saying about family planning and contraception:

~ "It's Astounding That We're Still Debating the Pill After 50 Years," Rebecca Leber, New Republic's "Q.E.D."

CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Tennessee Sentenced a Woman to Six Extra Years in Jail Simply Because She Was Pregnant," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": "Once you can get six extra years in prison because you made an unhealthy but not illegal choice while pregnant, it seems that the door is open to all sorts of policing of pregnant women's behavior," Marcotte writes, discussing a recent case in which a Tennessee woman was given "enhanced sentencing" for methamphetamine manufacturing because she was involved in the process while pregnant. According to a Vice report on the case, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women led a coalition of reproductive-rights organizations to urge the Department of Justice to protest the woman's sentencing, noting that drug use is not a crime under Tennessee or federal law, Marcotte writes. Marcotte adds, "[W]ith enhanced sentencing, the legal groundwork is being laid for criminalizing things that otherwise are not crimes because they are being performed while pregnant" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 10/13).

SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES: "Pittsburgh Passes 'Reasonable Accommodations' for Pregnant Workers," Tara Murtha, Women's Law Project blog: The "Pittsburgh City Council passed legislation [Ordinance 2014-0809] that calls for 'reasonable accommodations' for pregnant women who work for the city or city contracts, and bans discrimination against pregnant employees," Murtha writes. She adds that the ordinance "cites examples of discrimination from around the state [of Pennsylvania], including a supermarket cashier ... who lost her job because she followed her doctor's orders to carry a water bottle and a pregnant security guard denied a request to sit down part of her shift in downtown Pittsburgh." Murtha writes that while "the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 [PL 95-555] banned discrimination against pregnant workers, it does not address reasonable accommodations under all circumstances," noting that state and federal lawmakers have proposed bills (S 942, HR 1975) to combat such discrimination (Murtha, Women's Law Project blog, 10/13).

What others are saying about supporting working families/pregnant workers' rights:

~ "Microsoft CEO Apologizes for Ridiculous Comments About Women," Sarah Gray, Salon.

ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "'There's no Such Thing as a 'Bad' Abortion,'" Alex Ronan, New York Magazine's "The Cut": Ronan interviews Katha Pollitt, a feminist critic, an essayist for The Nation and author of the upcoming book "Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights." Pollitt tells Ronan that, in order to mobilize the abortion-rights movement, "we need to ... stop apologizing about abortion all the time." Pollitt continues, "We say abortion is terrible, but you should be legally able to have one," but that is "not really a ringing defense," particularly compared with abortion opponents who say "abortion is really terrible." Pollitt states, "There's no such thing as a 'bad' abortion. Life is messy and complicated; people are going to have sex and experience unplanned pregnancies. Abortion is just a part of life" (Ronan, "The Cut," New York Magazine, 10/13).