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National Abortion Federation Blog: Saporta Reporter

News about reproductive choice from the President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, Vicki Saporta. photo of Vicki Saporta
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  Remembering an American hero: George Tiller

We continue to mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was a dedicated physician who provided quality abortion care to women, at great personal sacrifice and risk. He is truly a hero to his fellow abortion providers and his patients. Dr. Tiller’s office is filled with letters from women, thanking him for the excellent, compassionate care he provided. Many of these women say Dr. Tiller saved their lives.

Since his tragic death, we have received messages from some of his patients and from people around the world who are saddened and outraged. We feel it is important to share these words and tributes to our beloved colleague and friend. For the first time, we will enable comments on our blog so that all of you can share your condolences or offer memories of Dr. Tiller. We invite you to join us in honoring a true American hero, Dr. George Tiller.

Post your comments, condolences, and personal memories of Dr. Tiller

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Anti-Abortion Protestor Barred from Clinic Property

This morning the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled that anti-abortion extremist Dan Holman cannot come onto the property of the Emma Goldman Clinic. Instead he must stay across the street. Emma Goldman staff first sought an injunction against Holman in September 2003. A district court ruling last year barred Holman from entering an alley behind the clinic and an adjoining parking lot, but allowed him to protest on a sidewalk in front of the clinic. The appellate court ruled today that the district court’s injunction failed to protect clinic staff and clients from harm since Holman could be less than 18 feet from the clinic’s front door and in the direct path of clinic traffic while protesting on the sidewalk.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alabama Man Pleads Guilty in Clinic Attack

Dalton Ray Skinner pleaded guilty Tuesday to a January attack on the West Alabama Women’s Center where he drove his car into the front entrance while the clinic was closed. Skinner was indicted in April on one charge of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health care services. He faces a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine at his February sentencing.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Study Examines Global Impact of Unsafe Abortions

A study published this week by The Lancet identifies ending the pandemic of unsafe abortion as an urgent public-health and global human-rights issue throughout the developing world. According to the report, 68,000 women – mostly in developing countries – die each year during unsafe abortions, and millions more are hospitalized from complications. Even in countries where abortion is legal, restrictive laws make it difficult for women to access safe abortion care. The report compares data from 13 countries and finds a clear association between legal access to abortion and improvement in sexual and reproductive health. The evidence clearly demonstrates that when abortion is made legal, safe, and easily accessible, women’s health rapidly improves.

Titled “Unsafe Abortion: The Preventable Pandemic,” the report is authored by NAF member David A. Grimes, MD, of the University of North Carolina Medical School; Janie Benson, DrPH and Bela Ganatra, MD, both of Ipas; and other noted experts in obstetrics-gynecology or international public health.

>Learn more about the barriers that restrict abortion access to women around the world.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

National Abortion Federation Denounces Appointment of Dr. Keroack to Oversee Federal Family Planning Funds

Saporta: “Dr. Keroack should not be entrusted with the oversight of the Title X program and the health of millions of Americans.”

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) today denounced the appointment of Dr. Eric Keroack as the new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (DASPA). DASPA oversees Title X, the nation’s family planning program, which provides high-quality family planning and preventive health care services to over five million low-income individuals annually.

This appointment raises serious concerns because Dr. Keroack is currently the Medical Director for A Woman’s Concern (AWC), six crisis pregnancy health centers located in the Greater Boston Area. Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are designed to discourage pregnant women from seeking abortions, and in many instances, they misinform and intimidate women to achieve their goal. Dr. Keroack’s support of biased counseling is troubling given Title X’s long-standing commitment to medically accurate information. In addition, AWC health centers will not distribute, encourage the use of, or offer referrals for contraceptive drugs and devices.

“CPCs intentionally mislead women to prevent them from accessing a full range of reproductive health care options including contraception and abortion,” National Abortion Federation (NAF) President and CEO Vicki Saporta said. “Instead of providing legitimate health care services for women, CPCs exist to dissuade women from considering abortion.”

NAF has joined with a coalition of health care and women’s organizations in sending a letter to Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, to express serious concerns over the appointment of Dr. Keroack.

“Dr. Keroack should not be entrusted with the oversight of the Title X program and the health of millions of Americans,” Saporta said. “For more than 35 years, the Title X program has been a hallmark of quality preventative care, enabling practitioners to provide family planning services to low-income individuals.”

In June 2006, NAF released a comprehensive report detailing the many ways Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) have deceived and intimidated women. The report, entitled Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice , highlights numerous instances where CPCs have harassed and given false information to women, leaving them feeling betrayed and misled. The report also discusses legal action taken against CPCs.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Act Now to Protect Title X, America’s Family Planning Program

For more than 35 years, the Title X program has been a hallmark of quality preventative care, enabling practitioners to provide family planning services to over 5 million low-income individuals annually. However, this program and its mission are now at serious risk. The Bush Administration has just appointed an anti-choice ob-gyn, Dr. Eric Keroack, to the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, a position which oversees the Title X program.

This appointment raises serious concerns, because Dr. Keroack is currently the Medical Director for A Woman’s Concern (AWC), five crisis pregnancy health centers located in the Greater Boston Area. Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are designed to dissuade pregnant women from seeking abortions, and in many instances, they misinform and intimidate women to achieve their goal. Dr. Keroack’s support of biased counseling is in direct conflict with Title X’s long-standing requirement that women facing an unintended pregnancy be provided with medically accurate information. In addition, AWC health centers will not distribute, encourage the use of, or offer referrals for contraceptive drugs and devices.

Dr. Keroack should not be entrusted with the oversight of the Title X program and the health of millions of American women. Act now and urge Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt, to reconsider the appointment of Dr. Keroack as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs.

>TAKE ACTION NOW!

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Bush Names Anti-choice Advocate to Oversee Family Planning

This week, the Bush Administration appointed Eric Keroack, M.D., as the new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (DASPA) within the Department of Health and Human Services. In this post Keroack will oversee the Office of Family Planning and the Title X program, which is the only Federal program designed to fund family planning and reproductive health services.

An anti-choice advocate, Keroack is the Medical Director of six Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Massachusetts, which oppose counseling and education on birth control, and attempt to dissuade women from obtaining abortions.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lawmakers in New Hampshire Seek to Repeal Parental Notification Law

Democrats in New Hampshire, who now have a majority in the state House and Senate, announced they will attempt to repeal the state parental notification law during the next legislative session. The law, which passed in 2003 by six votes in the state House and by one vote in the state Senate, requires doctors to notify parents at least 48 hours before a minor obtains an abortion.

In November 2003, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Concord Feminist Health Center, the Feminist Health Center of Portsmouth, N.H., and Manchester, N.H.-based ob-gyn Wayne Goldner filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of this law because it did not include an exception in cases where a minor's health was at risk. The 1ST U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law in its entirety, but the case was appealed to the Supreme Court. On January 18, 2006, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, upholding its own precedent that abortion laws must protect women's health and well-being. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court to determine if the state legislature would have passed the law with a health exception. If not, the Court agreed that the law should be struck down.

> Learn more about the dangers of mandating parental involvement.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Appeals Court Overturns Ohio Abortion Regulation

Today, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an Ohio abortion regulation that limited minors to one request per pregnancy when seeking a judicial bypass of the state’s parental notification law. The court also upheld a ruling that requires women to have an in-person counseling session with a physician for informed consent purposes prior to obtaining abortion care.

> Learn more about the obstacles facing teens seeking abortion care, including judicial bypass laws.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Argument in Federal Abortion Ban Challenges

ACLU and National Abortion Federation Call on Court to Hold Women's Health Paramount

The U.S. Supreme Court heard argument today in two legal challenges to a federal ban on abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in each of the cases. Both organizations have called on the Court to hold women's health paramount by affirming lower court decisions striking down the ban.

"This is a dangerous and broad ban prohibiting abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy – abortions that doctors say are safe and among the best to protect women's health," said Vicki Saporta, NAF President and CEO. "Politicians should not legislate medical decision-making; women should be able to make decisions and receive care based on their individual circumstances."

Before the Court today were two challenges to the federal abortion ban, called the "Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act" by its sponsors: Gonzales v. Carhart, brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Dr. LeRoy Carhart and three other physicians and decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in July 2005, and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, brought by Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of its affiliates throughout the country and decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in October 2005. Both circuit courts struck down the ban because it fails to protect women's health. In addition, the Ninth Circuit found that the ban prohibits an array of safe abortion methods.

A third challenge to the federal abortion ban, NAF v. Gonzales, was brought by NAF and seven individual physicians, represented by the ACLU, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, the ACLU of Illinois, and the New York Civil Liberties Union. In January 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed that the ban requires a health exception and asked for further legal briefing to determine how to remedy the violation. That case is now on hold as the other two cases go before the Supreme Court.

"Only six years ago, the Supreme court struck down a nearly identical ban because it endangered women," said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "We are hopeful the Court will follow its own lead and stop this sweeping ban."

Medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose the federal ban.

Congress passed the federal ban and President Bush signed it into law in 2003, despite numerous court decisions striking down similar state bans, including the decision in 2000 by the Supreme Court in Stenberg v. Carhart. Courts have consistently struck down the bans for two reasons: their broad language prohibits abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy, and they lack exceptions to protect women's health.

Today's cases are Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, No. 05-1382 and Gonzales v. Carhart, No. 05-380.

NAF is the professional association of abortion providers in the United States and Canada. NAF members care for more than half the women who choose abortion each year in the United States and work at clinics, doctors' offices, and hospitals throughout the country, including premier teaching hospitals.

The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. The NYCLU is the New York affiliate of the ACLU.

For more information, visit: www.aclu.org/reproductiverights and www.prochoice.org.

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Voters Reject Abortion Restrictions

Voters in California, Oregon and South Dakota rejected anti-choice ballot initiatives on Election Day.

> Read NAF's press release about the vote on the South Dakota abortion ban

> Read NAF's press release about the vote on Oregon's parental notification ballot initiative

> Read NAF's press release about the vote on California's parental notification initiative

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Monday, November 06, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda – Update 8

Staff members from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) are on the ground in South Dakota campaigning to repeal South Dakota’s abortion ban. Please read our blog this week to read our staff’s reports “from the field” about this closely watched ballot initiative and learn more about the “No on Six” campaign.

We had a rally in front of the federal court house to get voters and the Sioux Falls Community energized. Jan Nicolay, co-chair of the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families , spoke out against the ban and invited others to do the same. Several community members came forward to express their opposition, including a young pregnant woman, a mother of four, a union leader, a high-school student, and a medical student at a local university. Even the arrival of anti-choice protesters couldn’t dampen the energy of the crowd, which filled the entire sidewalk in front of the courthouse. Afterward, we joined about 30 other volunteers with signs and marched up to the busiest Sioux Falls intersections to wave our signs and cheer against the abortion ban. Our supporters honked and cheered as they drove by in their cars during the busy lunch hour. After two hours outside in the chilly South Dakota wind, our fingers were numb but our spirits were high, and we returned to the office to continue our efforts to get out the vote with phone calls and mailings.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda – Update 7

We visited the Planned Parenthood clinic. There was one lone protester praying out in front, but in talking with the Planned Parenthood staff we learned that the protesters have been out in force almost every day.

We toured the facility and met the staff, including our NAF representative. She was thrilled to see us and gave each of us a big hug. It was rewarding to meet the individuals we work on behalf of in Washington, D.C.

The staff's commitment to continue to provide services to women under these difficult circumstances was a theme that resonated throughout each conversation we had. One staff member shared a story about a patient she saw earlier that drove five hours from Rapid City to seek care, and will now have to drive five hours back home. Despite all of the media attention and controversy surrounding this issue, the patient was resolved that the protesters and politicians would not intimidate her from exercising her right to make her own medical choices.

As we left the clinic, we drove by several different offensive posters the protester had brought with him. But the last thing we saw driving away was a huge banner that hangs on the outside of the clinic and reads, "These Doors Will Stay Open." With such a dedicated and fantastic staff, we are confident that will be the case.

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NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 6

While driving around the Sioux Falls area, we notice that many of the churches have at least one (and usually several) “Vote Yes for Life” yard signs. Their marquees also contain anti-choice messages, along with reminders to vote on November 7th. Many of these churches are also polling locations, where South Dakota citizens will go to vote on Election Day.

It is important to understand that many people of faith oppose the South Dakota ban and religious leaders are speaking out. Pastors for Moral Choices (link: http://www.pastorsformoralchoices.org/), an organization of religious leaders uniting together in South Dakota, has been formed by clergy that are against the comprehensive ban.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 5



Working side by side with local pro-choice volunteers in the campaign office, we hear stories about why repealing the abortion ban is so important and how taking a position on this issue has affected their lives. We talk with Joan, who is addressing envelopes containing voter guides to be sent to the final group of undecided voters. It just so happens that her sister is the former abortion provider-turned-spokeswoman for the "Vote Yes for Life" ads running regularly on television. She talks about how this issue has divided her family.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 4



On Sunday morning, the local Sioux Falls Paper, the Argus Leader, had a full front-page story with the most recent poll results for Referred Law Six. These results reflect the fact that 52% are in support of repealing the abortion ban, 42% are in favor of keeping the ban and 6% are undecided. There was a lot of excitement and energy when we arrived at the campaign office. However, the enthusiasm in the campaign office was tempered by a fear that complacency would set in among “No on Six” supporters. In order to defeat the ban, we need to get all of our voters to the polls, and most of Sunday was spent on the phone trying to recruit over 500 volunteers to help with the get-out-the-vote effort of election weekend up through Election Day.

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