Reproductive Health Issues
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Pregnancy & Family Leave Issues
Updated: July 29, 2015
- Father Who Sued To Keep His Adult Daughters From Getting Birth Control Wins Key Court Fight - Missouri state Rep. Paul Wieland (R) sued the Obama administration over a year ago because he did not want his daughters to obtain birth control through his health insurance. His case was reinstated on Monday by appellate court judges. If Wieland wins this case, his adult daughters'--and potentially many others'--personal decisions to take birth control would be stripped from them. This case could also extend the decision Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which allows businesses to withhold the coverage of birth control for personal religious reasons.
- American Teens Are Waiting to Have Sex - A new report breaks down the sex habits and contraceptive use of American teenagers. After years of steep declines, the rates of teens having sex has plateaued, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 44 percent of girls and 47 percent of boys ages 15 to 19 reported having had sexual intercourse in 2011-2013.
- Teen sex rate lowest since the 1980s, contraceptive use remains high - The number of teenagers having sex is the lowest in the last 25 years and the use of condoms among teens is slightly higher than in the last 11 years, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The Campaign of Deception Against Planned Parenthood - Anti-abortion groups have long pushed to defund Planned Parenthood, even though no federal money is used to provide abortions. But that hasn't stopped their efforts to shut down the clinics, which provide services like contraception, cancer screening and other tests.
- Small Business Owners Support Contraception Insurance Coverage - A new poll commissioned by the Center for American Progress and the Small Business Majority found that the majority of small business owners interviewed-62 percent-believe that employers should be required to offer insurance that covers birth control even if it conflicts with owners' religious beliefs. More importantly, these findings are consistent across gender, race, political affiliation, religious identification, and even geography.
- Feds set final rules for birth control mandate - The administration took the final step toward ensuring that women can keep their birth control coverage even if their employer refuses to provide it on religious grounds. Final regulations allow women to receive contraceptive services without co-payments over the objections of their employer. The much-anticipated rules also expand the definition of businesses that can seek exemptions from the controversial ObamaCare mandate.
- Only three US states mandate recommended HPV vaccine - Only Virginia, Rhode Island and Washington D.C. have laws requiring kids to have the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to attend school, according to a new study.
- CDC Data Affirms Safety of Abortion Procedures - According to CDC numbers released Wednesday and published in Obstetrics & Gynecology's August issue, deaths associated with abortion care remain very rare; CDC analyzed data from the national Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. The system includes information found on death certificates and other sources, such as clinic reports, hospital data and certain media reports.
- The Narrative Around Late-Term Abortion Is Riddled With Inaccuracies That Are Hurting Women - In preparation for the over-exaggerated political jargon and emotional hyperbole that make up Presidential campaign speeches, it's important to know the truth about contentious issues such as late-term abortion. Abortion, generally, is a dividing issue in Presidential campaigns, and late-term abortion, which is called partial-birth abortion by anti-choice activists, is even more divisive. It's a medical procedure that treats the fetus with respect, and it's very rare.
- Court: New health law doesn't infringe on religious freedom - The federal healthcare law doesn't infringe on the religious freedom of faith-based nonprofit organizations that object to covering birth control in employee health plans, a federal appeals court in Denver ruled.
- 7th Circuit Denies Wheaton College's Request for an Injunction Against Contraceptive Coverage Rules - The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an Illinois-based evangelical Christian college's request for an exemption from an accommodation in the federal contraceptive coverage rules for not-for-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious.
- Physicians Order Fewer Preventive Health Services for Women with Medicaid Coverage, Study Finds - Primary care physicians ordered fewer preventive health care services for women who had Medicaid coverage than they did for women who were privately insured, according to a recent study by the Urban Institute, Kaiser Health News reports.
- Study: Out-of-Pocket Contraceptive Costs Down After ACA Contraceptive Coverage Rule - Women's out-of-pocket spending on most major forms of contraception dropped significantly in the months following the implementation of an Affordable Care Act provision that requires insurers to cover contraception at no cost, according to a recent study published in Health Affairs.
- States Increasingly Restrict Abortion Access, Other Reproductive Rights - While women's health advocates are watching the Supreme Court for key decisions on reproductive rights, most of the "action is at the state level, and decisions by state legislators ... underscore the threat to women's choices in reproduction and other health issues," The Conversation reports. Lawmakers between 2011 and 2013 passed 205 restrictions on women's reproductive rights, accounting for more restrictions than passed over the previous decade. In 2013, 22 states approved 70 laws restricting women's access to reproductive health care. Meanwhile, reproductive rights advocates found that 27 states in 2013 -- up from 13 in 2002 -- were considered "hostile" to abortion rights.
- Colorado's Effort Against Teenage Pregnancies Is a Startling Success - The birthrate for teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for another group particularly vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies: unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school. The changes were particularly pronounced in the poorest areas of the state.
- 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.
Branch Homepage - Public Policy Issues to Watch