Reproductive Health Issues
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Pregnancy & Family Leave Issues
Updated: June 30, 2015
- Study: Women in Developed Countries Face Barriers to Abortion Care - In developed countries, women continue to face barriers to obtaining abortion care during the first three months of pregnancy, even though such countries impose fewer legal restrictions on the procedure than others, according to an analysis in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care.
- Abortions declining in nearly all states - Abortions have declined in states where new laws make it harder to have them - but they've also waned in states where abortion rights are protected, an Associated Press survey finds. Nearly everywhere, in red states and blue, abortions are down since 2010. Nationwide, the AP survey showed a decrease in abortions of about 12 percent since 2010.
- 5 Ways Birth Control Has Changed America - June 7 marked the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized birth control for married couples. (The decision was expanded to non-married Americans in 1972.)
- For Women, Even a Small Co-Pay for Contraception Can Be a Big Deal - About half of pregnancies in the US are unintended - and that has much to do with access and use of contraception. Unintended pregnancies lead to an estimated US$5 billion in costs for the US health-care system per year, while birth control use provides cost-savings of $19 billion each year. Even small improvements in contraceptive use could result in a meaningful reduction in the number of unintended pregnancies.
- Survey: Higher Percentage of U.S. Adults Say They Are 'Pro-Choice' Than 'Pro-Life' - For the first time in seven years, a higher percentage of U.S. adults identify as "pro-choice" than "pro-life," according to a new Gallup survey. The survey found that 50% of U.S. residents describe themselves as pro-choice, including 46% of men and 54% of women (Politico, 5/29). In particular, the percentage of individuals between ages 35 and 55 who identify as pro-choice increased from 40% in 2012 to 52% in the latest Gallup survey. More than 50% of respondents younger than age 56 described themselves as pro-choice in the survey. Meanwhile, 44% of survey respondents described themselves as pro-life, the lowest percentage in more than five years. Specifically, 47% of individuals ages 55 and up described themselves as pro-life.
- Federal Court Again Denies Notre Dame Injunction Against Contraceptive Coverage Rules - The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday in a 2-1 decision for the second time rejected the University of Notre Dame's request for an injunction against the federal contraceptive coverage rules.
- STUDY: LGB Teens Need Birth Control Info Too - If a teenager identifies as gay or lesbian, don't assume he or she doesn't need information about preventing unwanted pregnancies.
That's the message of a new study, which found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens appear to be at greater risk of becoming pregnant or impregnating a partner than those who are straight.
- Lawmakers Back Broader Access to Contraceptives for Women in the Military - The annual defense policy bill, passed on Friday by the House, says military clinics and hospitals must be able to dispense any method of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Women have complained that they are sometimes unable to obtain contraceptives prescribed by their doctors, especially when they are deployed overseas.
- Obama Administration Calls on Insurance Companies to Cover Full Range of Birth Control Methods - The Obama administration issued clarifying guidance stating that insurance companies must cover all 18 FDA-approved birth control methods for women without a copay - not a what insurers pick and choose. Health insurance companies will no longer be able to use loopholes to force women to pay out-of-pocket upwards of $600 a year more for their birth control.
- Report Ranks All 50 States, D.C. on State of Reproductive Rights - New York ranks in the top tier at #7 with an A-, the highest score any state got. For the report, researchers evaluated all 50 states and Washington, D.C., based off nine indicators, including abortion accessibility, funding and political support and the availability of comprehensive sexuality education, among other metrics. Further, the report weighed whether states imposed mandatory delays prior to abortions; had parental involvement rules for minors seeking an abortion; required insurers to cover infertility treatments; and expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) or via family planning expansions.
- When Gender Stereotypes Become A Serious Hazard To Women's Health - It can be difficult for female patients to convince health professionals to take their symptoms seriously - which, in turn, makes some women hesitant to speak up about their medical concerns in the first place, for fear of being told they're overreacting. Ultimately, this complicated interplay between gender roles and the health care system could be putting lives at stake.
- Bill would require N.Y. insurers to cover free birth control - including sterilization for men - The bill would write into New York law provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act that require insurance companies to cover all Food and Drug Administration-approved methods of birth control for women, including the morning-after pill. The bill would also go beyond Obamacare by requiring insurers in New York to cover non-over-the-counter contraception methods for men, such as sterilization. It would also allow up to a year's worth of contraception to be provided at one time.
- The War on (Poor) Women - The use of women's sexuality to diminish their place in the public sphere through restricted access to reproductive healthcare has rightly been called a war on women.
- Teen Use of Long-Term Contraception Rising, But Remains Low - The use of long-acting, reversible forms of contraception remains low among sexually active teen girls, though that trend seems to be changing, according to a U.S. government report. Among teens aged 15 to 19, the use of long-acting reversible contraception rose from less than 1 percent in 2005 to about 7 percent in 2013, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Federal Court Hears Appeal in Baptist Universities' Contraceptive Coverage Case - The federal government on Tuesday asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court ruling that granted East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University an injunction against the federal contraceptive coverage rules.
- Poll Examines U.S. Adults' Views on Abortion Rights - Nearly 40% of U.S. adults do not identify as firmly "pro-choice" or "pro-life," according to a new Vox poll. Overall, the poll found that about one-third of U.S. adults said they identify as "pro-choice," while 26% said they identify as "pro-life." Meanwhile, 18% of respondents said they are both "pro-choice" and "pro-life," while 21% said they did not identify with either label.
- Endometriosis Is Often Ignored in Teenage Girls - An estimated 89 million women worldwide, including 6.5 million in the United States and Canada, have endometriosis, according to the Endometriosis Association. But those numbers are rough, experts say, because many young girls with endo, as it is called, do not find out until years later.
- Survey: Most Millennials Support Access to Affordable Birth Control - A majority of U.S. adults ages 18 to 35 across all religions, ethnicities and races favor access to affordable birth control, according to a Public Religion Research Institute survey released.
- Lawmaker Says She's 'Sat Here Too Long,' Discloses That She Was Raped And Had An Abortion - Ohio State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D) stood up during a legislative debate about a proposed abortion ban and revealed publicly for the first time that she had been sexually assaulted, became pregnant, and had an abortion. "What you're doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I've sat here too long. I dare any one of you to judge me," she added. "I dare you to walk in my shoes."
- Survey: Many Religious Women Supportive of Contraceptive Coverage Rules - Although Catholic Church leaders remain opposed to the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) contraceptive coverage requirements, a majority of lay Catholic women support the policy, according to a study by University of Michigan researchers, The Atlantic reports.
- New Study Affirms HPV Vaccination Not Linked to Riskier Sexual Behavior - Girls do not begin engaging in riskier sexual behavior after they receive the human papillomavirus vaccine, according to a study.
- Move Afoot to Overturn Hyde Amendment Restrictions on Abortion - A coalition of more than 60 national and local organizations, called All* Above All, is organizing to highlight the discriminatory impact of the federal Hyde Amendment, a 38-year-old law that restricts low-income women from using Medicaid to pay for abortions in 32 states and the District of Columbia.
- Survey Shows Increase in Violence Against Abortion Providers, Clinics - Abortion providers are experiencing an increase in threats and intimidation from abortion-rights opponents, according to a Feminist Majority Foundation survey.
- States that are more opposed to abortion rights have fewer abortions - but not fewer unintended pregnancies - Some of the states that oppose abortion the most also have some of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies -- particularly in the South. And on average, the states that favor abortion rights the most have slightly lower levels of unintended pregnancies.
- Study: U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rate Among World's Highest, Despite Declines - Despite declines in the U.S. teen pregnancy rate since the 1990s, the nation continues to have the highest teen pregnancy rate among countries that track such data, according to a new Guttmacher Institute study.
- Report: Majority of Women Cannot Access Abortion Coverage in ACA Marketplaces - About 60% of U.S. women who qualify for tax credits under the Affordable Care Act are unable to access a plan that covers abortion through the law's marketplaces, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report.
- Seven Reproductive Rights Issues to Watch in 2015 - In their first week back at work, congressional Republicans introduced a sweeping prohibition on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy (H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act), as well as bills that would ban sex-selective abortions, target funding for groups like Planned Parenthood, require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges, and let doctors and nurses opt out of providing abortion care, even in emergencies. In the states, where the 2014 elections gave Republicans control of two-thirds of state legislative chambers, incoming lawmakers also have supersized their abortion agendas.
- A New Wave of Abortion Restrictions
- The Rise of Religious Exemptions
- Conscience Clauses for Non-Religious Groups
- Battles Over Contraception
- A Revamped Personhood Playbook
- A Broader Agenda for Reproductive Rights Activists
- The California Exception
- Obama Administration Argues Hobby Lobby Ruling Does Not Apply To Not-For-Profits - The Obama administration on Thursday asked a federal judge not to grant not-for-profits that hold themselves out as religious and oppose contraception any additional accommodations under the federal contraceptive coverage rules. The Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) contraceptive coverage rules include an accommodation for not-for-profits that hold themselves out as religious and oppose contraception.
- Groups Converge To Back Proactive Reproductive Health Agenda - About 60 women's health organizations have formed a coalition to urge state lawmakers to back policies supporting women's health and reproductive rights. Between 2011 and 2013, 30 state legislatures passed 205 laws restricting abortion, according to a Guttmacher Institute study. The number of antiabortion-rights laws passed in those years exceeded the total passed in the previous decade. The coalition has outlined its approach in a working paper, "Moving in a New Direction: A Proactive State Policy Resource for Promoting Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice."
- OB-GYN Group Recommends Steps to Improve Access to Contraception - The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is recommending a series of steps to improve women's access to contraception, including expanding insurance coverage of contraception without cost-sharing, in particular.
- Minnesota students start sex-education club - In a first-of-its-kind program in Minnesota, students at St. Louis Park High School are forming a sexual health education club to cover topics they say aren't getting enough attention in their regular health class. MNPR reported that the student-led club launching in January will cover a multitude of topics including birth control, abstinence and sexually transmitted infections. The club, open to students from grades 9-12, also will discuss how to foster healthy relationships.
- Study: Ailing Stats on Global Teen Sex Health - Twenty years after a major international gathering flagged the need for better sexual reproductive health services for the world's teens, a Dec. 18 report in the Journal of Adolescent Health describes the degree to which that goal is unmet and urges remedies.
- Spending measure allows abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers - Congress and President Obama this week halted a 35-year ban on federal abortion assistance for Peace Corps volunteers with their approval of a government-wide spending bill.The legislation extends abortion coverage to Peace Corps volunteers in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment, giving them the same assistance the government provides for federal prisoners, female troops, women on Medicaid, and much of the federal workforce, including paid Peace Corps employees.
- For-Profit Companies Increasingly Denying Contraceptive Coverage After Hobby Lobby Ruling - While the Supreme Court's Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision received the most public attention, more than two dozen other for-profit companies have also obtained court rulings allowing them to deny contraceptive coverage to their workers, and about two dozen more are expected to do so soon.
- The Birth Control Pill Advanced Women's Economic Freedom - Five years after the introduction of the pill in 1960, 41 percent of "contracepting" women had a prescription, according to The Power of the Pill, a 2002 analysis by Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz. Today, four out of every five sexually active women in the U.S. have taken oral contraceptives at some point in their lives. pill has had a singularly profound effect in advancing women's economic freedom.
- What Americans Have Forgotten About The Era Before Roe v. Wade - Dr. David Grimes, who has been providing abortion care for four decades, is worried that the time period before abortion was legalized in the United States is becoming a distant memory. In his new book - entitled Every Third Woman in America: How Legal Abortion Transformed Our Nation - Grimes returns to those days. And he uses the stories from that time period to argue that medical historians will put legal abortion on par with antibiotics, vaccinations, and modern contraception as one of the most meaningful advances of the 20th century.
- How Likely Is It That Birth Control Could Let You Down? - Misuse and failure of birth control are major contributors to the millions of unplanned pregnancies in the United States each year. When failure rates of contraceptives are mentioned, they usually refer to a given year of use. Less understood is that the risk of failure is compounded over time. The longer any method of contraception is used, the greater the probability of unplanned pregnancy - the same way that any small risk, taken repeatedly, grows in likelihood. This is true for all contraception methods, even in the highly unlikely event that they are used perfectly, every time.
- A Quick Guide on the Human Rights of Women - The terms reproductive health, reproductive rights, and reproductive justice are often used as interchangeable phrases to talk about either contraception or abortion. But these terms are in fact three very different concepts. Reproductive health refers to preventive care, family planning, and disease management, while reproductive rights include the legal protections and public supports that allow women to control their fertility, give birth as they choose, and protect their health so that they can fully participate in society. Reproductive justice, a 20-year old term, refers to the structural and social issues that effect women's ability to fully benefit from the law or health services and that allow her to be the person, mother, caregiver, and breadwinner she wants to be.
- Ensuring Access to Family Planning Services for All - At some point in their lifetimes, 99 percent of sexually active women in the United States use contraception. However, women access family planning in a variety of locations, as well as pay for the services they receive in a multitude of ways. Although each and every woman in that 99 percent has family planning in common, their needs are all met differently. Policy and funding decisions must recognize these differences in order to support all women in the ways that work best for them. Improvements must be made to our current health care system so that all women can access and receive the contraceptive services they need. This issue brief discusses the importance of family planning and the benefits of making a societal investment in this much-needed health service.
- Family Physicians' Group Officially Opposes 'Nonevidence-Based Restrictions' on Women's Health Care - The American Academy of Family Physicians last week adopted a resolution that "supports a woman's access to reproductive health services and opposes nonevidence-based restrictions on medical care and on the provision of abortion services." AAFP's New York chapter proposed a resolution that would support measures like the Women's Health Protection Act (S 1696, HR 3471). The federal legislation would dismantle state laws "restricting physicians' speech and compelling physicians to give medically inaccurate information to patients, particularly regarding abortion services," AAFP New York President Linda Prine said.
- Ensuring Access to Sexually Transmitted Infection Care for All - At some point in their lives, most sexually active people will be infected with a sexually transmitted infection, or STI. About 20 million new cases of STIs are diagnosed annually. Despite being a common, preventable, and treatable health problem, a lack of information, shame, and stigma tend to characterize the nation's discussions about STIs-even though they represent a severe risk to the public and economic health of the United States.
- U.S. Taxpayers Save $7 for Every $1 the Government Spends on Family Planning - Publicly funded family planning programs help save taxpayers billions of dollars each year by averting costly medical expenses, according to a new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute. It's the latest data point in an overwhelming body of evidence illustrating the societal benefits of expanding access to affordable birth control. Low-income women are at the highest risk of unintended pregnancy, largely because they don't always have access to medical resources like contraception.
- NPR Interview Discusses Development of Birth Control Pill - NPR's "Shots" discusses an interview "Fresh Air's" Terry Gross conducted with Jonathan Eig, author of "The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution." The effort was primarily led by activist Margaret Sanger, scientist Gregory Pincus, Catholic ob-gyn John Rock and research funder Katharine McCormick. Together, they helped develop oral contraceptives during the 1950s, when contraceptives were still illegal in several states.
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