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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

Friday, April 09, 2010

State News Round-Up

Anti-choice legislators in the states continue to restrict women’s access to abortion care by passing bills that ban health insurance coverage for abortion, interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, and place an undue burden on both women and their health care providers.

Last week, the Tennessee House Commerce Committee passed a bill that would eliminate insurance coverage for abortion care from a health insurance exchange slated to go into effect in 2014. Several states are considering a variety of different restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion care under the new structure created by federal health care reform.

The Tennessee legislature also approved a bill that would require abortion clinics to post signs that read, in part, "It is against the law for anyone, regardless of the person's relationship to you, to coerce you into having or to force you to have an abortion." A similar measure was recently passed in Georgia. These bills are unnecessary, as abortion providers already work extensively with their patients to determine that their decision is voluntary and informed.

In Oklahoma, Governor Brad Henry signed into law three separate anti-choice bills. The statutes outlaw gender-specific abortion; regulate the provision of medical abortion; and create the Freedom of Conscience Act, which says employers "cannot discriminate against an employee by refusing to accommodate the religious beliefs of said person as it pertains to abortion, human embryos, fetal transplants or euthanasia."

>Learn more about state restrictions.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

NAF Board Member Profiled in The Washington Post

Today, The Washington Post profiled abortion provider and NAF Board Member Dr. Carol Ball. Dr. Ball is one of four physicians who travel from out of state to provide abortions in South Dakota, which has not had an in-state provider of elective abortions since 1994.

South Dakota has seen some of the fiercest challenges to Roe v. Wade, including a 2006 bill that would have banned all abortions except when a woman’s life was in danger. Voters in the state rejected this ban in 2006, and a similar measure in 2008.

Dr. Ball has cared for women for nearly 30 years. She currently serves as the medical director for Planned Parenthood’s regional office in the Twin Cities. The clinic she works at in South Dakota is the only clinic in the entire state.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Federal Judge Upholds Oakland Bubble Zone Ordinance

Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that a 2008 Oakland city ordinance barring abortion protesters from coming within eight feet of women entering and exiting abortion clinics is constitutional. Anti-abortion protester Walter Hoye challenged the ordinance’s constitutionality, and claimed that police applied it unfairly to anti-abortion protesters after he was cited for violating the ordinance last year. However, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer found the law to be both neutral in content and applied appropriately by police who arrested Hoye.

In February 2008, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed the bubble zone ordinance, which allows patients and providers to enter and leave clinics free from harassment and intimidation while preserving free speech rights.

>Learn more about clinic protection bills.

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1 comments

very nice and informative blog

By Anonymous tubal reversal, at 1:47 AM  

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Ohio Bill Would Require Consent From Men Before Abortion

This month, an Ohio state legislator introduced a bill, which would require written consent from a woman’s partner or the man involved with the pregnancy in order for her to obtain abortion care. If the man is unknown, this bill would force a woman to submit a list of possibilities, and her doctor would have to conduct paternity tests—at the woman’s expense—and then seek the man's permission prior to providing abortion care. In cases of rape or incest, proof via a court document, police report, or indictment would be required.

This bill would place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman attempting to access abortion care and is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ruled that abortion restrictions must not place an "undue burden" on women seeking abortion care.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican John Adams, introduced similar legislation which died in committee in 2007.

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1 comments

When I hear that the US justice system is taking steps to make abortion less accessible I become outraged. I don't see how religious or personal beliefs against the procedure are justified in taking the right away. I do not advocate that abortion should become another form of birth control. But, when we are discussing such extreme cases as this article does, a woman should have the right to have a safe, legal abortion if she chooses. Personal beliefs are meant to govern personal actions, not monitor the behavior of everyone in a nation.

-Politics.com intern

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:02 PM  

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday's Words from Women

Over one-third of women of reproductive age have an abortion by the age of 45. However, women who have chosen abortion are often absent from the public debate. In order to break the silence surrounding abortion, we will be featuring real stories from real women each Wednesday on our blog. If you would like to share your story with us or have it published on our blog, go to http://www.prochoice.org/pregnant/hotline/share.html.

When I found out I was pregnant, instead of feeling that wonderful feeling you’re supposed to get, I was devastated. I knew that I was not emotionally or financially capable of having a child.

I know how much controversy surrounds what I am doing but I also know how many organizations and women have fought to give me this right. I take solace in the fact that I can obtain an abortion in a legal, professional manner. All in all, I cannot even describe how much I appreciate the ones who gave me the right to choose. Maybe one day I will have a child, but it needs to be when I am ready, and able to give the child a great life. Until then, I am truly thankful that I had the right not to carry this pregnancy to term at this unstable time in my life. Thank you.

--submitted by Amber* through a member clinic


I am 20 years old with a one-year-old daughter. I’m a single parent and I live alone with my child. I attend college and work full-time. It just isn’t the right time for me to have another child. Financially with this economy I can’t afford it, and emotionally it’s too much stress trying to struggle with it. I could possibly see myself having another child when the time is right: when school is done, the recession is history, and the demand for jobs is controlled.

--submitted by Lisa* through a member clinic

*Names have been changed to protect patient privacy

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1 comments

If there were no doctors willing to give abortions, there would be more child abuse, illegitimacy, unnecessary suffering, and poverty. It is so hypocritical that pro-LIFE people would murder someone. Notice you do not hear about pro-choice citizens murdering pro-life people. That is because we are true Christians and believe that others have feelings and rights, even if they don't agree with us. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:56 PM  

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Friday, May 08, 2009

The President’s Budget Misses an Opportunity to Improve Women’s Access to Reproductive Health Care

Yesterday, we released the following statement:

We are deeply disappointed that President Obama failed to strike federal funding restrictions on abortion care from his proposed budget.

Federal funding restrictions are the most significant barrier to abortion access for low-income women. These funding restrictions unfairly jeopardize the health and well-being of millions of women who rely on the federal government for their health care. Women affected include low-income women who are enrolled in Medicaid, Peace Corps volunteers, Native American women, women in federal prisons, and federal employees.

During these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever that all women have access to quality, affordable health care including abortion care. For 30 years, NAF has been operating a national, toll-free hotline to provide women with factual information, options counseling, referrals to providers of quality care, and limited financial assistance. In the last year, call volume to our Hotline has nearly tripled. We hear from thousands of women each week who are struggling to afford the abortion care they need. It is critically important that the health care needs of these women not be overlooked.

As we move forward with health care reform, we call on the President and Congress to work together to ensure that women have access to comprehensive health care, including abortion care.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

New York City Council Passes Clinic Protection Bill

Last week, the New York City Council passed a bill to address incidents of harassment and protect access to reproductive health clinics. The new legislation allows police to arrest anyone obstructing the entrance to a reproductive health clinic, and permits clinic workers as well as patients to file charges against protesters.

This bill was first proposed in September of last year by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in response to incidents of harassment, which included doctors being forced to the ground and clinic entrances being blocked. This legislation has enjoyed widespread support from the public, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

>Learn more about state clinic protection bills.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Varying Policies and Practices Limit Incarcerated Women’s Access to Abortion Care

Access to abortion care for incarcerated women varies widely, according to a new study published in this month’s Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Incarcerated women wishing to terminate a pregnancy face numerous challenges; among them are facilities’ ad hoc responses to abortion requests, difficulties in making transportation or financial arrangements, and the requirement of obtaining a
court order.


In a survey of health professionals who provide clinical care in correctional facilities, 68% of respondents indicated that inmates at their facilities can obtain elective abortions; however, only 54% said that their facilities help to arrange appointments.

Additionally, the study found that facilities in states with a Republican-dominated
legislature or
with a Medicaid policy that restricts abortion were more likely to have limited access to abortion care than were those whose state had a predominantly Democratic legislature or a Medicaid program that covered all or most medically necessary abortions. The authors suggest that the correctional health system should strive to consistently provide quality, comprehensive medical care to all inmates.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

S.C. Bill Would Require Women Seeking Abortion Care to be Given List of Nearby CPCs

Seven South Carolina House Representatives have prefiled a bill that would require women seeking abortion care to be given a list of nearby CPCs and other facilities that provide free ultrasounds. This bill expands upon the law passed in 2008 that requires women seeking an abortion to be given the option of viewing an ultrasound image prior to receiving care.

“This is just another attempt by Republicans to chink away at women’s rights in this state,” said Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia). “We have a Senate that has no women and a House with very few women and we want to tell a woman what to do with her body.”

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) exist to dissuade women from having abortions, and often use false information to mislead women. South Carolina is already home to some of the most stringent abortion restrictions in the country, including parental consent for minors, state-mandated biased counseling and waiting periods, and required ultrasounds.

>Learn more about abortion rights in the states.
>Learn more about Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs).

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Bush Administration’s Regulation Undermines Women’s Access to Reproductive Health Care

The Bush Administration issued a final regulation Thursday that would undermine a woman’s ability to access important health services and information about all relevant health care options.

The proposed rule, published in August, generated hundreds of thousands of comments, including public opposition from leaders in Congress, governors, medical organizations, patient advocates, faith-based groups and even members of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, the Bush Administration released a final rule Thursday that failed to meaningfully address many of the concerns raised by these comments.

Existing federal laws already protect employees from religious discrimination in the work place and accommodate health care professionals who refuse to provide abortion services, while ensuring patients have access to necessary care. This regulation purports to create a right for individuals and institutions to refuse to provide necessary health care services, including contraception, reproductive health care information, counseling and referrals, which is unprecedented under current laws.

A woman seeking health care should be able to trust that her health care provider will give her accurate, unbiased medical information about all of her options. Navigating the health care system can be overwhelming, and this regulation disparately impacts low-income women who depend on federally-funded safety net providers for family planning services and information. If a medical professional or counselor refuses to provide information about reproductive health care options, including referrals for abortion care, a woman may not have the ability or resources to visit multiple providers to obtain non-judgmental care.

Every woman deserves access to unbiased, medically accurate information so that she can make the right decision for herself in her particular circumstances. We join with the numerous voices opposing this regulation and urge the new Administration and Congress to take steps to reverse this ill-conceived regulation and ensure that women have access to the health care they need.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

New York City Council Unveils Clinic Access Bill

Last week, the New York City Council held a hearing on a bill to protect access to reproductive health clinics. The Clinic Access Bill was introduced in September by Speaker Christine Quinn in order to protect both patients and health care providers at local clinics from the harassment they face from anti-abortion protesters. Recent examples of harassment include doctors being knocked to the ground, clinic doors being blocked, and protesters misleading women and instructing them to get into cabs in order to go to the “real” clinic.

The new legislation would allow clinic employees as well as patients to file charges against protesters. The bill also lessens the burden of proof currently required to prosecute the charges.

According to the Women’s Issues Committee chair, “this bill will ensure this right against unlawful harassment and intimidation, and will guarantee that every woman can make the reproductive choices that are best for her."

There has been widespread support for the bill, and it is expected to pass.

>Learn more about clinic protection.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

NAF Featured as Expert Contributor

NAF has been featured as an expert contributor arguing: Should Abortion be Legal? on Opposing Views, a website dedicated to the debate of important social, health, and political issues. At Opposing Views, well-known organizations and opinion leaders engage in an online discussion so that viewers can see all sides of a topic. You can join in the debate by rating and commenting on our arguments.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

EEOC Protests Bush Administration Regulation

A last-minute Bush Administration “provider conscience” regulation is facing serious objections, including from the government agency responsible for enforcing job discrimination laws. Three top officials from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are protesting the proposed regulation because they say it would overturn 40 years of civil rights law prohibiting employee discrimination based on religion.

Longstanding federal employment anti-discrimination laws already strike a careful balance that requires employers to balance respect for their employees’ religious beliefs with meeting their patients’ health care needs. This proposed regulation would broaden the scope of existing federal refusal laws beyond Congressional intent and put ideology before sound health care practices.

The EEOC’s protest is also echoed by many in the medical community, including the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, which have urged the Bush administration to withdraw the proposed regulation. According to the New York Times, aides to the Obama Administration have said that the President-elect will try to rescind the regulation once he takes office, a process that could take from three to six months.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama Administration to Consider Lifting Global Gag Rule

Advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have authored a list of 200 Bush administration actions that could quickly be undone to promote change, a Washington Post article reports. Among the policies being considered for quick reversal is the Bush administration’s Global Gag Rule.

Originally authored during the Reagan Administration, the Global Gag Rule prohibits international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive U.S. government funds from using their own private funds to provide abortions. The policy also prevents NGOs from lobbying their own government for a change in abortion laws, conducting public education campaigns about abortion, referring women to safe abortion providers, or even providing medically accurate counseling about abortion to their clients. The policy was rescinded by President Clinton in 1993, and then re-implemented by President G.W. Bush on his first day in office in 2001.

In many rural areas worldwide, foreign NGOs are the only healthcare providers. The Global Gag Rule endangers already vulnerable women by further curtailing their access to safe and accurate reproductive health care.

>Learn more about international abortion issues.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Review Finds Global Trend Toward Liberalization of Abortion Laws

Since 1998, 16 countries have adopted more liberal abortion laws, a study published by the Guttmacher Institute reported. The report, released this week, examined changes in abortion laws between 1998 and 2007, and found that 16 countries increased the grounds on which abortions can be legally provided. An additional 10 countries maintained their current laws, but added supplements that increased access to abortion care.

In Latin America, major change occurred in Columbia, whose constitutional court struck down its blanket prohibition of abortion in 2006, and in Mexico City, whose government recently revised its laws to allow unrestricted access to abortion care up to 12 weeks’ gestation. In 2002, abortion access laws in Nepal were amended to allow abortion care up to 12 weeks’ gestation, as well as in cases of rape, incest, fetal impairment or risk to the mother. In 2003, the African Union ratified a protocol guaranteeing a woman the right to an abortion in cases of rape, incest, sexual assault or threat to the mother’s mental or physical health. This trend reflects international recognition of the negative effects abortion restrictions have on women.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Anti-Abortion Protester Charged with Violating Oakland Bubble Zone Ordinance

Anti-abortion protester Walter Hoye was due in court today on four misdemeanor charges of violating an Oakland bubble zone ordinance.

The bubble zone ordinance protects patients, doctors, nurses, and other employees of reproductive health care facilities as well as volunteer escorts who assist people entering and exiting the facilities. The ordinance prohibits several different behaviors at reproductive health care clinics, including approaching closer than 8 feet for the "purposes of counseling, harassing, or interfering" with someone without the person's consent.

In February, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed the bubble zone ordinance. Hoye has been involved in legal challenges to the bubble zone, and last month became the first person cited for violating the ordinance.

>Learn more about state Clinic Protection Bills.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Plan B Approved for Over-the-Counter Sale in Canada

This week, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) has accepted a recommendation and approved Plan B (also known as emergency contraception) for over-the-counter sale. Under current rules in Canada, women who want to buy Plan B have to ask pharmacy staff for the drug, a condition critics say may discourage some women from using it to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Allowing Plan B to be sold on drugstore shelves instead of behind-the-counter will give Canadian women the ability to easily access the medication in time for it to be an effective option.

NAPRA advises Canada's provincial regulatory authorities, which will have final say in adopting the new policy in their own regions.

>Learn more about emergency contraception.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Series Examines Laws Targeting Abortion Providers

This month, RH Reality Check is featuring a series on Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) Laws, which single out abortion clinics for unnecessary, politically motivated, restrictive regulations.

The series examines how abortion opponents use legislation to restrict women’s access to safe, legal abortion care.
The anti's strategy has been to allow abortion to remain legal, but to make it
unavailable,” says Bonnie Scott Jones, Deputy Director of Domestic Programs
at the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. “Their goal is to make
abortion so difficult to obtain it's not really an option. They've also worked
to make it more difficult to be an abortion provider than any other kind of
doctor. TRAP laws work as a disincentive to becoming part of, or remaining in,
the abortion field.”
>Learn more about TRAP Laws.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Restrictive Bills Fail in Florida, Kansas

Although access to abortion care continues to be threatened in the states, this week, we celebrated the following defeats of new proposed restrictive legislation:

The Florida Senate failed to pass a bill, which would have required a woman seeking abortion care to have an ultrasound and view the results unless she signed a waiver. After 90 minutes of debate, the bill died on a 20-20 tie. This legislation was medically unnecessary, and an unwarranted intrusion into the relationship between a doctor and patient.

Anti-choice senators in Kansas failed to override the governor's veto of a bill imposing new restrictions on abortion care. Last week, Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) noted in her veto message that the bill, "endangers the health of women and is likely to be found in violation [of] the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Kansas."

>Learn more about abortion rights in the states.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

More Italian Doctors Refusing to Provide Abortion Care

Last week, the Italian Health Ministry reported that nearly 70 percent of gynecologists in the country now refuse to perform abortions on moral grounds. Although Italy legalized abortion in 1978, the Vatican has pushed for doctors to claim a “conscientious objection” and refuse to provide abortion care. The number of gynecologists claiming such an exemption rose from 58.7 percent to 69.2 percent, from 2003 to 2007, according to the Ministry.

When presenting these findings, outgoing Health Minister Livia Turco called on Italy's various regional health authorities to "guarantee an abortion service" despite the growing number of doctors who have moral objections to the procedure.

The Health Ministry also reported an increase in immigrant women seeking abortion care, despite a decrease in the rates of legal and illegal abortions.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

National Abortion Federation Supports the Recommendation to Allow Plan B to be Sold Over-the-Counter in Canada

Today we released the following statement supporting the recommendation of the National Drug Scheduling Advisory Committee (NDSAC) to the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) to allow Plan B (also known as emergency contraception) to be sold over-the-counter:

The recent NDSAC recommendation is an important endorsement to allow Canadian women the ability to easily access Plan B in time for it to be an effective option. In August 2007, NAF sent a letter to NAPRA supporting the request to allow Plan B to be sold over-the counter.

Changing the status of Plan B from behind-the-counter to over-the-counter would allow more women to prevent unintended pregnancies. Additionally, allowing Plan B to be sold over-the-counter would also reduce the cost, since a consultation with a pharmacist would not be required.

Plan B contains a concentrated dose of the progestin hormone found in daily birth control pills, and reduces the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent when taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

The Need for Abortion Training in Medical Schools

In Canada, training in comprehensive reproductive health care including abortion is not currently offered as part of the core training in undergraduate medical education or as a part of required training in all ob/gyn or family practice residency programs. This limits the ability of physicians to provide comprehensive reproductive health care to their patients. Medical schools must provide training opportunities for medical students and residents to ensure that future generations of Canadian women have access to quality abortion care.

RH Reality Check examines this issue today on their blog and notes, "Without properly trained doctors, compassionate medical staff, and adequate facilities, women in Canada are not able to access the abortion services that they need."

To address these issues, NAF is reaching out to medical schools and residency programs to offer NAF's educational resources to help ensure that abortion is included in their curricula.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

New York Times Raises Concerns About Justice Department Nominee

Today, The New York Times published an editorial, which expressed concerns over the nomination of Grace C. Becker to the position of Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Civil Rights Division is responsible for overseeing the enforcement of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. This law is vital in protecting abortion providers and women seeking reproductive health care services from violence and threats of violence.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Case Against Over-the-Counter Plan B Sales Dismissed

This week the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit, which challenged the FDA’s approval of Plan B (also known as emergency contraception) for over-the-counter sales to adults. After years of politically-charged debate, the FDA made Plan B available without a prescription in August 2007, but only for adults.

Anti-choice groups were seeking a reversal of this policy, but they failed "to identify a single individual who has been harmed by Plan B's OTC (over-the-counter) availability," according to the ruling.

In a separate case, the Center for Reproductive Rights is also challenging the FDA’s policy concerning over-the-counter access to Plan B; however, their case argues that restricting the drug for girls under 18 was based on politics and not science.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Virginia Senate Takes Action on Abortion Measures

The Education and Health Committee of the Virginia Senate rejected a handful of anti-choice measures today. Several of the bills were examples of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which single out abortion providers for medically unnecessary, politically motivated regulations. Opponents said the bills would make abortions more expensive and less accessible.

These defeats come just one day after the Virginia Senate voted to stop state funding for Planned Parenthood of Virginia because it offers abortion care. After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) warned that the Senate was setting a bad precedent of singling out organizations because of ideological differences, according to The Washington Post.

>Learn more about TRAP laws.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Support Dr. Morgentaler

The Order of Canada, the highest civilian honour, was established to recognize outstanding lifetime achievement and service. Please sign this petition to the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada, which has repeatedly overlooked Dr. Morgentaler for this distinguished award.

Take Action Now: http://www.nafresources.org/petition_can.html

About Dr. Morgentaler:Dr. Morgentaler, a survivor of the Holocaust, has made a positive lasting impact on the lives and health of Canadian women for more than 40 years as a physician and advocate. He came forward publicly in 1967 and testified that women should have access to safe and legal abortion care at a time when abortion was illegal and countless women were sacrificing their lives and health to end an unplanned pregnancy. For his beliefs and actions to ensure safe abortion care, he was imprisoned. In 1988, Dr. Morgentaler won a significant victory for Canadian women in the Supreme Court of Canada in R v. Morgentaler, the ruling that decriminalized abortion in Canada. This landmark decision, that changed the legal landscape in Canada, was named one of the most important and influential Charter cases of the last 25 years.
Dr. Morgentaler’s determination and tireless efforts on behalf of women have never ceased. Now in his eighties, he continues to provide leadership in current struggles to ensure that women have access to funded abortion care.

He has received several awards in his lifetime, but Canada’s highest award has never been bestowed upon him. This is a significant omission.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Senate Questions Anti-Choice Judicial Nominee

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on anti-choice Richard Honaker’s nomination for a lifetime appointment as a federal district judge to the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.

Throughout his career, Richard Honaker has worked to undermine a woman’s right to access abortion care. While in the Wyoming Legislature, Honaker introduced two bills that would have created a near total-ban on abortion in the state. When the bills failed, Honaker then served as counsel to an organization formed to place the abortion ban on the 1994 Wyoming state-wide ballot. Wyoming voters overwhelmingly rejected the measure.

Honaker has repeatedly stated his view that legal abortion is the equivalent of murder, and has criticized Supreme Court decisions establishing the legal right to an abortion. His statements and writings on the role of religion in the law also raise concerns about whether he would follow established precedent if the resulting decision would be inconsistent with his personal beliefs. Given his extensive history of anti-abortion activism and his extremist legal philosophy, Honaker is clearly an inappropriate judicial candidate and his confirmation to the court would threaten the reproductive rights of women in Wyoming.

Read NAF’s statement opposing Richard Honaker’s nomination.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

South Africa's Parliament Approves Legislation to Increase Abortion Access

Today, South Africa's Parliament passed a bill to increase abortion access. The proposed law would allow for increased hours at abortion facilities, remove the requirement of mandating pre-approval to obtain abortion care, and permit nurses to provide abortion services.

The legislation will now be referred to President Thabo Mbeki to sign into law.

>Learn more about reproductive rights in South Africa.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

20 Years of Legal Abortion in Canada

Today I am featured as a guest blogger on RH Reality Check. View my post on the 20th Anniversary of the R v. Morgentaler decision and our recent symposium in Canada.

>Learn more about abortion access in Canada.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Today Marks 20 Years of Safe, Legal Abortion Care in Canada

Today we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of R v. Morgentaler, the Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion by striking down Canada's abortion law as unconstitutional. Since then, Canada has become one of a small number of countries without a federal law restricting abortion.

The Morgentaler decision has undoubtedly protected the health and saved the lives of countless Canadian women. However, as we reflect on this decision’s impact, we are reminded that in some provinces and territories women are still denied equal access to abortion care. Even though abortion is considered a safe, legal, and insured service, access is variable across the country. For example:

  • There are no abortion services available in Prince Edward Island.
  • In New Brunswick, a woman can only obtain a publicly funded abortion if provided by an ob/gyn in a hospital with written approval from two doctors.
  • Abortion is not part of the inter-provincial billing agreement. Therefore students attending school in another province, or women who have recently moved and are in the process of transitioning their health care benefits, are forced to pay the full cost of their abortion care or incur additional expenses traveling back to their home province. Abortion is the only time sensitive service that is de-listed and its exclusion remains a significant barrier to care for many women.
  • The majority of abortion care is provided in urban centres. Women living in rural communities often face challenges in accessing care.
Now more than ever, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the women who continue to face these obstacles in order to obtain the abortion care they need. We must continue to work together to ensure that women have the same access to abortion care regardless of where they live.

It is critical to the lives and health of Canadian women that abortion is safe, legal, and accessible. We must remain vigilant in preserving reproductive freedom so that we never have to return to the days of back alley abortions where our sisters, mothers, and friends had to risk their health—and sometimes even their lives—to end an unwanted pregnancy.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Federal Court Protects Abortion Access for Incarcerated Women in Missouri

This week, a federal appeals court ruled that the state of Missouri must provide transportation for inmates who want to obtain abortion care.

In 2005, prison officials in Missouri went to extreme lengths to deny a woman prisoner abortion care. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a court to require the prison to transport the woman for an abortion as they would for all other serious medical needs. When the court ruled that the prison must transport the woman to a nearby health care facility, the state unsuccessfully asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene; the woman received the care she needed. The American Civil Liberties Union then brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all incarcerated pregnant women in Missouri seeking abortions.

“Today’s decision is consistent with rulings from across the country that women prisoners do not lose their reproductive rights once they are incarcerated,” said Diana Kasdan, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Prison officials must ensure that women have access to the full spectrum of pregnancy-related care, including abortion.”

Since Missouri law prohibits the use of state tax money to pay for abortions, the prisoner is still responsible for the cost of the procedure. A similar case was decided in Arizona last year.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Celebrating 35 Years of Safe, Legal Abortion Care

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion care in the United States. On this historic anniversary, it is important that we celebrate what we have achieved under the legacy of Roe while also assessing the challenges that lie ahead.

Roe has undoubtedly saved the lives and protected the health of countless women. As we mark this milestone of 35 years of safe, legal abortion care, we must remain vigilant in preserving this freedom so that we never have to return to the days of back-alley abortions when women had to sacrifice their lives and health to end an unwanted pregnancy.

In the 35 years since Roe, many new reproductive health care options have become available to women. These include a variety of safe and effective contraceptive methods, emergency contraception, early medical abortion using mifepristone (RU-486), and safe surgical abortion. Despite these advances in reproductive health care, a woman's fundamental right to make her own reproductive health care decisions continues to be eroded by politicians and the courts.

Women deserve to have access to safe abortion care, free from the interference of politicians. Legislative attacks on Roe and a woman's right to choose are all too common in state legislatures. In 2007 alone, more than 450 anti-choice bills were filed in states across the country. Although the vast majority of these bills were not enacted, several states passed extreme legislation that would ban all safe abortion procedures at all stages of pregnancy if Roe were overturned.

It is critical to the lives and health of millions of women that the protections of Roe not be further weakened. NAF will continue to work to ensure that abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible to promote health and justice for women.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

NAF's Statement on the Arson of the Office of Curtis Boyd, MD, in Albuquerque, NM

On Friday, we released the following statement in response to the arson of the Office of Curtis Boyd, MD, in Albuquerque, NM on Thursday night:

As the professional association of abortion providers, National Abortion Federation (NAF) is extremely concerned about protecting our members from violence. NAF has been tracking incidents of violence and disruption since 1977. In that time, there have been seven murders, 17 attempted murders, 41 bombings, 100 butyric acid attacks, 656 anthrax threats, and 175 arsons including this most recent incident in New Mexico.

We hope that the suspect(s) responsible for this crime will be swiftly apprehended and convicted. The visible prosecution and conviction of anti-abortion criminals who engage in violence have led to a decrease in major acts of violence against abortion providers in recent years. However, last night’s arson is a reminder that we must remain vigilant in protecting women's access to reproductive health care and the safety of the dedicated health care professionals who provide that care.

>Read the full statement.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Britain’s Department of Health May Allow Private Doctors to Provide Medical Abortion Care

Britain’s Department of Health confirmed this week that they are conducting trials to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of providing early medical abortion care in private doctors’ offices.

Under current regulations, abortions can only be provided at National Health Service hospitals and specialist clinics and require the approval of two doctors. Earlier this year, a House of Commons committee found women were experiencing unnecessary delays in obtaining abortion care and called for easier access. The committee also recommended the current law be liberalized to do away with the two doctors' signatures rule. The committee evaluation is expected to be completed in early 2008.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Urge Congress to Save Birth Control Now!

Millions of college students and low-income women have been drastically affected by the soaring cost of birth control, which has risen substantially this year because of a mistake made by Congress.

For nearly twenty years, pharmaceutical companies have been able to voluntarily provide low-cost birth control to university health centers and other providers. Unfortunately, last year Congress changed the law and inadvertently eliminated college and university health centers, along with some community health providers, from obtaining birth control at a low cost. As a result of this mistake, birth control prices have skyrocketed for over 3 million college students and approximately 750,000 low income women.

Congress need only make a small change to the law to permit pharmaceutical companies to once again offer low-cost drugs to university health centers and safety net providers. Call your Representative and Senators and urge them to support the Prevention through Affordable Access Act.

>Take Action and Save Birth Control Now!

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Anti-Abortion Extremist Ordered to Remove Violent Threats from Website

Yesterday, a federal judge ordered an anti-abortion extremist in Pennsylvania to remove threatening content from his website and blog. For years John Dunkle has harassed and threatened abortion providers in person and on the Internet. One posting to his website, which featured an abortion provider’s name, photo, and address, encouraged readers to kill her by shooting her in the head.

Prosecutors claimed the postings violated the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The FACE Act 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. U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Golden said, “There’s no question threats were made.”

Dunkle is also banned from publishing similar messages containing names, addresses, or photographs of reproductive health care workers.

>Learn more about the FACE Act.
>Learn more about violence and disruption against abortion providers.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

LA Times Examines Legal Abortion in Mexico City

Since Mexico City legalized abortion in May, more than 3,400 women have obtained abortions at 14 of the capital's public hospitals. The availability of safe, legal abortion care has helped reduce the public health concerns and stigma associated with abortion.

"When people think of abortion, they no longer think of a hidden, shameful, illegal, clandestine and expensive procedure that is full of risks," said Marta Lamas, who founded Mexico's leading abortion rights group in 1992.

Illegal abortion is a serious public health issue in Mexico, resulting in the injury or death of thousands of Mexican women. According to the LA Times, more than 3,500 women die from illegal abortions each year in Mexico.

Abortion remains illegal in the rest of Mexico, and abortion opponents have petitioned Mexico’s Supreme Court to have Mexico City's law overturned on constitutional grounds. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on this early next year.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Virginia City Council Passes Resolution to Target Abortion Provider

On Tuesday, the Manassas, Va., City Council passed a resolution that would create a committee to study what regulations and guidelines abortion clinics in the city operate under and to determine if stricter guidelines are needed.

The resolution’s author incorrectly claims there are no health and safety requirements for the city’s one abortion provider, NAF member Amethyst Health Center for Women. However, the Amethyst Health Center adheres to federal standards, professional conduct requirements of the state's Board of Medicine and the Department of Health Professionals, and NAF’s Clinical Policy Guidelines, which set the highest standards for quality abortion care.

This resolution is an example of a Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) bill, which singles out abortion clinics for unnecessary, politically motivated, restrictive regulations.

"Regulations such as these are calculated to chip away at abortion access under the guise of legitimate regulation," said Jennifer Blasdell, NAF’s director of public policy in today’s Washington Post.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Protect Title X's Family Planning Programs!

Tell Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt that family planning must remain a priority!

President Bush has just appointed Dr. Susan Orr as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (DASPA) in the Department of Health and Human Services. 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, as Dr. Orr previously served as the Senior Director for Marriage and Family Care at the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization that has advocated for limited access to contraception. She currently serves on the board of directors for Teen Choice, a nonprofit organization which advocates for abstinence in lieu of contraception.

Dr. Orr has spoken out against contraceptive coverage requirements in federal employees' health insurance. She has said, "…fertility is not a disease. It's not a medical necessity that you have [contraception]."

Dr. Orr should not be entrusted with the oversight of the federal family planning program and the health of millions of Americans.

Take action and speak-out against this appointment by signing NAF’s petition.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

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

NAF issued this press release today:

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) denounces the appointment of Dr. Susan Orr as the Acting 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, as Dr. Orr previously served as the Senior Director for Marriage and Family Care at the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization that has advocated for limited access to contraception. She currently serves on the board of directors for Teen Choice, a nonprofit organization, which advocates for abstinence in lieu of contraception.

During her time at FRC, Dr. Orr spoke out in support of President George W. Bush’s proposed elimination of the contraceptive coverage requirement from federal employees’ health insurance. In 2001 she said to The Washington Post, “We’re quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It’s not a medical necessity that you have [contraception].”

This is not the first time that President Bush has made a controversial appointment to this critical public health post. Last year, Bush appointed anti-birth control advocate Dr. Eric Keroack, who had previously managed Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) in Massachusetts, to this position. CPCs are designed to discourage pregnant women from seeking abortion care, and in many instances they misinform and intimidate women to achieve their goal. Dr. Keroack resigned in March 2007 following public outrage.

"This is just another example of the Bush Administration promoting politics over a sound health policy. Dr. Orr should not be entrusted with the oversight of the federal family planning program and the health of millions of Americans," said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. "For more than 35 years, the Title X program has been a hallmark of quality preventive care, enabling practitioners to provide family planning services to low-income individuals."

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Abortion Waiting Times Increase Across Canada

The Edmonton Sun published an article today detailing how women in Alberta are facing wait times of up to three weeks when seeking abortion care. This wait time can be attributed to the province’s growing population, a shortage of staff and facilities, and a lack of political will to make abortion more accessible.

Delaying abortion care can lead to increased risks and is often stressful for women, as one clinic administrator explains. “Once women have decided they want to terminate the pregnancy, they call the clinic and they want it tomorrow," said Celia Posyniak, executive director of the Kensington Clinic in Calgary. "It's always a shock for them to learn they have to wait."

Waiting times for abortion care continue to increase throughout Canada. Last week, an article in The Ottawa Citizen revealed that women in the province were being forced to wait up to six weeks in order to obtain abortion care.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Victory in Aurora!

After weeks of politicization, Planned Parenthood is finally able to open their new clinic in Aurora, IL. Yesterday, the Kane County state's attorney said there was no wrongdoing after reviewing the clinic's development and permit process. The investigation was prompted by the complaints of anti-choice protesters and some members of the City Council. This was the third review to find no problems with the permit process. The city of Aurora then granted Planned Parenthood an occupancy permit and the clinic has opened its doors, two weeks after its scheduled opening.

The 22,000-square-foot, $7.5 million building will serve the growing community outside of Chicago by providing much need reproductive health care services including sexually transmitted disease treatment, breast cancer screening, and abortion care.

"It's always a victory when we can expand access to reproductive health care services, including abortion services," said Steve Trombley, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Catholic Bishops in Connecticut Reverse Position on Plan B

Roman Catholic bishops in Connecticut have reversed their position on Plan B by agreeing to let hospital personnel at the state’s four Catholic hospitals administer emergency contraception to rape victims. Today a new state law goes into effect, which requires medical personnel at state hospitals to provide survivors of rape with emergency contraception. The new law will increase women’s timely access to emergency contraception. Plan B can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

According to Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services Inc., 40 percent of survivors or rape were not offered or did not receive the full dose of emergency contraception at the hospitals where they were treated during the first half of 2006.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Ruling on Abortion Access for Inmates

Tuesday the Arizona Supreme Court upheld an appellate court decision that said a Maricopa County policy requiring deputies to transport inmates to medical facilities for abortions only when they are medically necessary posed an unconstitutional burden.

The policy only permitted prison officials to transport women seeking abortion care if they had obtained a court order, even though prisoners are regularly transported without a court order for all other necessary medical care.

“Prison officials must attend to all serious medical needs, including abortion care, regardless of whether or not they agree with the decision to end a pregnancy,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Women prisoners should not be subjected to the ideological whims of prison officials.”

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Temporary Injunction Issued in Missouri

A federal judge issued a temporary injunction Monday to stop the enforcement of a Missouri law, which would impose new regulations on abortion providers. The new law would require any facility that performs more than five first-trimester abortions a month, or any second- or third-trimester abortions, to meet the licensure requirements for an “ambulatory surgical center.”

Planned Parenthood will have 30 days to tell the health department what regulations it wants waived. The health department must then respond within 30 days. If the two groups cannot reach agreement, they must return to court.

U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith said that if the state health department insisted upon the most stringent interpretation possible, the renovations required of some abortion clinics could prove so costly they could infringe on the right to an abortion.

>Learn more about Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws, which single out abortion clinics for unnecessary, politically motivated, restrictive regulations.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Women Face Long Wait Times for Abortion Care in Ottawa

Yesterday the Ottawa Citizen ran an article about the long wait times many women face when seeking abortion care in Ottawa.
The average wait for abortion in Canada is an estimated two weeks…and in
Toronto, a woman can usually have the procedure within about eight days. The
average wait time in Ottawa is generally at least four weeks.
In Ottawa, abortion care is provided at an independent clinic two days a week and the Ottawa Hospital one day each week. Abortion access is especially limited during the summer as the Ottawa Hospital closes down and does not provide abortion care the entire month of August. Surgical abortion is one of the safest types of medical procedures, and the earlier an abortion is provided the less complicated and safer it is. Therefore, it is important that women who decide to get abortions can do so without unnecessary delays.

Today, party leaders responded to the story. Premier Dalton McGuinty said increased hospital funding will eventually provide easier access to abortion.

Although access to health services is guaranteed by the Canada Health Act, access to abortion care continues to be a problem for many Canadian women.

>Learn more about access to abortion in Canada.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Appeals Court Hears Case About Abortion Rights for Inmates

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit heard arguments today in a class-action lawsuit concerning the right to obtain abortion care for incarcerated women in Missouri .

In the past, the Missouri Department of Corrections would pay to transport inmates to a facility to obtain an abortion if an inmate requested the option, but not pay for the actual procedure. However, in 2005 this policy was reversed and an inmate could only be transported to obtain abortion care if her health or life were endangered. Last year a U.S. District Court Judge ruled this policy against transporting inmates for abortions was unconstitutional.

“Courts throughout the country have consistently held that being in prison does not mean a woman gives up her reproductive rights,” said Diana Kasdan, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, who argued the ACLU’s position before the court today. “Like other serious medical needs, prison officials must ensure that a woman can access abortion care.”

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

National Abortion Federation Expresses Disappointment in Judge’s Decision to Delay Opening of Clinic in Aurora

We issued this press release today:

    The National Abortion Federation (NAF) expressed disappointment in today’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Norgle dismissing Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed the opening of a new clinic in Aurora, IL.

    Last week, city officials notified Planned Parenthood that their clinic would not be allowed to open until the city completed an investigation into whether Planned Parenthood had complied with the permitting process. The clinic had been scheduled to open on Tuesday.

    “Although the case is still open, today’s decision prevents access to important health care services that the new clinic would offer including sexually transmitted disease treatment, breast cancer screening, and abortion care. Planned Parenthood is being treated differently from other types of medical facilities by the City of Aurora,” stated Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF.

    “While we are disappointed in today’s decision, we are confident that Planned Parenthood will be allowed to provide high-quality and affordable health care to the citizens of Aurora,” said Saporta.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Women in the Philippines Lack Access to Safe Abortion Care and Contraceptives

This week Reuters examines the challenges facing women in the Philippines where abortion is legal only in cases of life endangerment and reliable contraceptives are difficult to obtain. In the Philippines, the majority of the population obtains contraceptives from the U.S. government agency USAID, which has been the largest supplier of contraceptives in the country for more than 30 years. However, as part of a plan to help the Philippines achieve self-sufficiency in family planning, USAID has started phasing out supplies and plans to end its donation program in 2008.

Government officials in this predominantly Roman Catholic country are reluctant to fund or supply oral contraceptives and condoms. Instead they encourage people to use natural family planning methods, which have a high failure rate. According to a survey by the Guttmacher Institute, more than half of the women who have had an abortion in the Philippines were not using any family planning methods, and of those who were, three-quarters were using natural methods advocated by the government, such as rhythm or withdrawal.

Illegal abortion is a national health issue for women in the Philippines. Many women are forced to self-induce or seek dangerous back-alley procedures in order to end an unwanted pregnancy. Nearly 80,000 women in the Philippines are treated in hospitals annually for complications from induced abortion, and at least 800 women are estimated to die every year from complications, according to health reports.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Justice Department Takes Action Against Threatening Website

Lawsuit Calls for Removal of Threats to Abortion Providers

Tuesday the Justice Department asked a judge to force an anti-abortion extremist to remove postings to his website, which threaten an abortion provider in Pennsylvania. The site publishes violent threats against abortion providers as well as their names, addresses, and photographs.

Federal prosecutors say the postings violate the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

"This type of intimidation and scare tactic, regardless of one's beliefs or religious convictions, simply cannot be condoned," U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said in a statement. "Using a public forum, such as the Internet, to incite and instruct people to kill is tantamount to a form of domestic terrorism."

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Over-the-Counter Access to Plan B Turns One!

Today marks the one year anniversary of the FDA approval of Plan B (also known as emergency contraception) for over-the-counter sales to adults. In 2003, two FDA expert advisory committees voted overwhelmingly to recommend that Plan B be made available without a prescription, but political agendas kept the issue in heated debate for nearly three years. This approval was an important step in ensuring that women are able to access Plan B in time for it to be an effective option.

According to an Associated Press article in this week’s Washington Post, since the over-the-counter approval of Plan B: several states have enacted laws to improve rape survivors' access to the medication in hospital emergency rooms; legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress to ensure that women serving in the U.S. military overseas have access to the pills at their bases; and pro-choice groups have advocated with national pharmacy chains to make it readily available.

Despite its approval, some women continue to encounter pharmacies which refuse to stock the medication, and the age restriction creates medically unjustified barriers for teens. There is still much we can do to ensure that women have access to a full range of safe reproductive health care options including timely, straightforward access to emergency contraception.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Clinic Files Federal Lawsuit over Missouri Law

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has filed a federal lawsuit claiming a new Missouri law infringes on a constitutional right to abortion. They say the law could eliminate abortion services in large parts of the state by subjecting clinics to special regulations. The new law would require any facility that performs more than five first-trimester abortions a month, or any second- or third-trimester abortions, to meet the licensure requirements for an “ambulatory surgical center.”

According to Planned Parenthood CEO Peter Brownlie, “This onerous legislation has nothing to do with protecting women's health and safety…and is a blatant attempt to close down clinics and deny women their right to health care.”

This type of legislation is an example of a Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) bill. These bills subject abortion clinics to stringent regulations, which are inappropriate and unnecessary for outpatient facilities. TRAP bills are often introduced by abortion opponents who claim that abortion is an unsafe and unregulated procedure. In fact, abortion is one of the safest medical procedures provided in the United States and Canada. By implying that abortion clinics are uniquely dangerous and in need of special regulation, such bills recklessly promote an unfounded fear of abortion and their passage can result in clinics being closed to women seeking reproductive health care.

This is clearly the case in Missouri where Sen. Delbert Scott, a lead sponsor of the legislation, acknowledged: “Certainly, abortion is our target here.”

>Learn more about TRAP laws.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Convicted Murderer James Kopp Sent to Prison

Anti-abortion extremist James Kopp is serving his life sentence for the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian in a Pennsylvania high-security prison 170 miles west of Philadelphia.

Kopp was already serving a 25 year-to-life state sentence for the murder when a federal jury found him guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and using a firearm in a violent crime. In June, Kopp was sentenced to a life term without parole. Kopp had asked to serve his sentence in New York State, but U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara rejected his request.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

NAF Staff in the Field: Protecting our Members in Alabama

This week in Birmingham, Alabama, anti-abortion group Operation Save America (OSA) will be protesting at Planned Parenthood and the New Woman All Women clinic. New Woman All Women was the clinic that was bombed by convicted murderer Eric Robert Rudolph in 1998. An off duty police officer, employed as a security guard, was killed and a nurse, Emily Lyons, was brutally and permanently injured.

A staff member from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) is on the ground in Birmingham working with law enforcement and clinic staff in order to ensure that patients have safe access to abortion care and that services are unimpeded. Please visit our blog this week to read our reports “from the field.”


Update 1

Members of OSA began gathering for their annual week-long protest event in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday. This morning was their first day protesting at the city’s two abortion clinics. About 15 people demonstrated at Planned Parenthood, while about 100 gathered at the New Woman All Women clinic. Protesters carried graphic signs and shouted at clinic staff and law enforcement. Trucks, also bearing graphic signs, drove throughout the city, provoking numerous calls from concerned citizens who complained about the trucks. The group then gathered in the 5 Points neighborhood and held a rally and signing of an "emancipation proclamation for the unborn children of our land." There was a visible law enforcement presence at all the venues. Despite the disruption, the clinics both remained open and cared for their patients.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stop the Deceptive Advertising Practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Women seeking reproductive health care should be able to make informed decisions and access medically accurate information about their options. For that reason, Representative Carolyn Maloney has introduced the "Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women's Services Act," which authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to regulate the deceptive advertising practices of CPCs to ensure that they could not be confused with legitimate abortion providers or providers of abortion referrals.

CPCs should not be permitted to engage in deliberate attempts to divert women away from receiving abortion care by capitalizing on their deceptive tactics. Please contact your Representative and urge them to cosponsor this important legislation!

>Take Action Now
>Read my guest blog about CPCs on RH Reality Check

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Anti-Abortion Extremist James Kopp Sentenced to a Life Term for the Murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian in Violation of the FACE Act

Today anti-abortion extremist and confessed murderer James Kopp was sentenced to a life term without parole for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and 10 years for using a firearm to commit a violent act. This sentence follows the January 2007 federal trial where a jury found him guilty.

Kopp is already serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence for the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, a Buffalo area abortion provider. Kopp is also a suspect in the non-fatal shootings of three abortion providers in Canada and one abortion provider in the U.S. during the 1990s.

Kopp carefully planned the murder of Dr. Slepian and deserved to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. We cannot allow people to take the law into their own hands in order to advance their own personal, political agendas.

NAF was instrumental in advocating for the passage of the FACE Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1994. FACE prohibits the use of "force, threat of force or physical obstruction" to prevent someone from providing or receiving reproductive health care services.

Since 1977 NAF has been compiling statistics on violence and disruption against abortion providers. The very visible prosecution and conviction of anti-abortion extremists like Kopp along with the enforcement of the FACE Act have led to a decrease in major acts of violence against abortion providers.

Even though major acts of violence have decreased in recent years, many anti-abortion extremists still believe that it is justifiable to murder doctors because they provide women with safe and legal abortion care. We hope that Kopp’s life sentence without parole sends a clear message that violence against abortion providers will not be tolerated and that perpetrators of such crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

>Learn more about clinic violence, the FACE Act, Kopp, and the Army of God

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Clinics and Patient Challenge Georgia’s Refusal to Offer Medicaid Coverage for ‘Medically Necessary’ Abortions

The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a legal challenge brought against the state for its refusal to reimburse Medicaid recipients for abortion care when the procedure is needed to protect a woman's health. Several abortion clinics in Georgia and an unnamed Medicaid recipient sued the state arguing that it was unconstitutional to exclude “medically necessary” abortions from coverage. Under the current law, state Medicaid coverage can only be used to fund abortions in cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the woman.

In some cases, an abortion is necessary to protect a woman’s health even though her life is not in danger. Removing funding restrictions for abortion care is an integral step in ensuring that women are able to access the abortion care they need regardless of their financial circumstances.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Michigan’s Abortion Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a Michigan statute, which banned certain abortion procedures, was unconstitutional. According to the court, the Legal Birth Definition Act was worded so broadly that in addition to banning intact dilation and extraction procedures, it would also prohibit other legal abortion methods. The law “showed no meaningful attempt to comply with the constitutional limitations articulated by federal courts in the area of abortion law,” Judge Boyce F. Martin Jr. wrote for the court.

This is the third attempt in the last ten years by Michigan lawmakers to restrict access to abortion procedures. In April, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law banning certain abortion procedures after the first trimester.

>Learn more about the Federal Abortion Ban

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Examining the Loneliness of the Abortion Patient

Over the weekend Alternet published an article about the sense of isolation many women feel when facing an unwanted pregnancy and the decision to obtain abortion care. Unlike women in the 1970s who felt “entitled” to have a safe, legal abortion, patients today are highly aware of the stigma surrounding their choice. The article goes on to address the challenges of the reproductive justice movement and the divide in access to contraception and abortion for low-income women in America.

>Read the full article.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dr. Henry Morgentaler Honoured by the National Abortion Federation

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) presented a special award to Dr. Henry Morgentaler during NAF’s Annual Meeting held last month in Boston.

Canadian women owe Dr. Morgentaler a tremendous debt of gratitude for standing up for their lives and health at great personal sacrifice and risk. He is a legend, a hero, and a national treasure in both our countries.

Dr. Morgentaler challenged the Canadian criminal code by founding the first free standing abortion clinic in Canada. He was tried and jailed for providing safe abortion care to women. His challenges eventually led to the 1988 landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision that gave women the right to obtain abortion care. When Canada’s top Charter experts compiled a list of the most important and influential Charter cases, not surprisingly R. v. Morgentaler was included.

Since then, Dr. Morgentaler has worked to increase women’s access to quality abortion care in Canada. He has survived numerous threats on his life, a clinic bombing, and constant protests.

Dr. Morgentaler has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years, including NAF’s highest honour, the Christopher Tietze Humanitarian Award. The Tietze Award honours significant, lifetime contributions in the field of abortion care or policy.

Dr. Morgentaler’s determination and tireless efforts on behalf of Canadian women have never ceased. He has changed the legal landscape in Canada. And, he continues to provide leadership in current struggles to ensure that women have access to publicly funded abortion care.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

New Brunswick Court Hears Arguments in Morgentaler Case

A New Brunswick judge heard arguments Wednesday to determine if NAF Member Dr. Henry Morgentaler has standing to bring his latest court challenge against the government. Dr. Morgentaler is suing the New Brunswick government for its refusal to fund abortions at his clinic. According to Canadian law, an individual must have standing in order to bring a case forward. New Brunswick prosecutors have challenged Dr. Morgentaler’s standing due to the fact that he is not a woman.

In Canada, access to health services is guaranteed by the Canada Health Act. Abortion is funded under provincial and territorial health plans, and
coverage varies regionally. In New Brunswick, in order to have a publicly funded abortion, a woman has to have approval from two doctors and obtain abortion care in a hospital. Only two hospitals in the province offer abortion care, which is not sufficient to meet the needs of women. Therefore, more than half the women who need abortion care in New Brunswick, get their care at the Morgentaler Clinic. The government’s refusal to fund abortions provided in a clinic setting is in direct violation of the 1988 Supreme Court decision, which decriminalized abortion in Canada.

"
The women of New Brunswick are entitled to medically safe abortions that are covered by medicare," Dr. Morgentaler wrote last year. "The government has not only refused to cover abortions at the Morgentaler Clinic, it has not taken the appropriate action to advise the medical profession, nor New Brunswick women seeking abortion services, where this essential service will be available."

>
Learn more about access to abortion in Canada.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

NAF Calls on Canadian Medical Association to Change their Abortion Referral Policy

The CMA should not allow physicians to treat abortion referrals differently than referrals for other health care services.

Today, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) sent a letter to the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) calling on them to change their policy of allowing physicians to refuse to refer patients for abortion services noting that, "a physician's religious and moral beliefs should not jeopardize a patient's access to needed care." The complete letter follows:

Dear Dr. Colin McMillan, Dr. Louise M.C. Cloutier, and Dr. Jeff Blackmer:

The Canadian Medical Association's (CMA) policy of allowing physicians to refuse to
refer patients for abortion services is a violation of CMA's own Code of Ethics,
which requires physicians to first consider the well-being of the patient; to
practice medicine in a manner that treats the patient with dignity; to disclose
and resolve conflicts of interest in the best interest of patients; not to
discriminate against any patient on grounds such as gender or medical
conditions; and to provide patients with information they need to make informed
decisions about their medical care. Your policy treats women unfairly and
impedes women's access to critical health care guaranteed through the Canada
Health Act.

As you know, abortion is a safe, legal, and insured service under the Canada Health Act and should be treated the same as all other medical procedures. In fact, all provinces and territories have recognized that abortion is a medically necessary procedure. A physician's religious and moral beliefs should not jeopardize a patient's access to needed care.

If doctors do not wish to refer and inform patients about their comprehensive medical options, including abortion care, then they should not participate in the public system. Refusing to refer women for abortion care could result in delays that could force women to have later abortions at an increased risk to their
health.

Women in Canada deserve to have access to a full range of safe reproductive health care options. The CMA should not allow physicians to treat abortion referrals differently than referrals for other health care services. A patient's needs must remain paramount.

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in Canada and the United States. Our members include health care professionals at clinics, doctors' offices, and hospitals, who together care for more than half the women in both countries who choose abortion each year. We set the standards for quality abortion care in North America, and we have played a leading role in advocating for increased access to quality abortion care throughout Canada.

The National Abortion Federation calls on the Canadian Medical Association
to change your policy to come into compliance with your own ethical standards.
By not doing so, you abdicate your moral authority to set policies regarding
health care in Canada.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

NAF Distributes Statement Clarifying Recent Supreme Court Decision on Abortion

NAF has received reports from our members and our Hotline operators about women being concerned about the accessibility of abortion care following the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. NAF has issued a statement so that women understand that abortion care will continue to be available at our member facilities. The complete statement follows:

On April 18, 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law banning certain
abortion procedures after the first trimester. It remains the case,
however, that abortion is still legal in the United States in the first and
second trimesters, and under very limited circumstances in the third
trimester. We are working with our members and attorneys to ensure that
women continue to have access to the highest quality abortion care in compliance
with the court’s decision.

If you have questions about abortion or need referrals to providers of quality care, please call our toll-free Hotline at 1-800-772-9100. Our hotline provides callers with unbiased, factual information about abortion in English, Spanish, and French.

NAF has been at the forefront of challenging this dangerous ban. Our mission is to
ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care to promote health and justice
for women. Our members include health care professionals at clinics, doctors'
offices, and hospitals, who together care for more than half the women who
choose abortion each year in the United States.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

The National Abortion Federation Commends Mexico City's Plan to Legalize Abortion

Here is the press release we issued today:

Washington, DC - Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), released the following statement today praising the government of Mexico City for moving forward with a law requiring city hospitals to provide abortion services in the first trimester and allowing the establishment of private abortion clinics:

Women in Mexico City and throughout Mexico deserve to have access to a full range of safe reproductive health care options. We know from experience that access to safe, legal abortion care protects the health and saves the lives of women. No longer will women in Mexico City have to jeopardize their lives and health by self inducing or seeking a back alley, illegal procedure.

As the professional association of abortion providers in the United States and Canada, NAF has worked for 30 years to ensure the safety and accessibility of abortion care for women. We set the standards for quality abortion care in North America and conduct continuing medical education to ensure that providers are able to offer the highest quality care.

NAF plans to share our quality guidelines and experience with abortion providers and medical facilities in Mexico City. Several of our members have already expressed an interest in assisting colleagues in Mexico to begin offering quality care.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

National Abortion Federation Calls on Members of Congress to Sponsor and Support the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)

Here is the press release we issued today:

Washington, DC - Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, released the following statement today urging members of Congress to sponsor and support the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA):

The United States Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal abortion ban was a major setback for women’s health. This ruling effectively undermines a core protection for women’s health established in Roe v. Wade. It underscores the urgent need for Congress to take action to protect women’s health and a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions.

FOCA would restore the rights guaranteed to American women by the Roe decision, and ensure that women’s health would be protected.


Women’s lives and health must remain paramount. We urge members of Congress to sponsor and support this important legislation and safeguard women's health and reproductive freedom. We stand with and thank Senator Boxer and Representative Nadler for their leadership and determination to ensure that women continue to have access to safe and legal reproductive health care.

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The Supreme Court Turns Back the Clock on Women's Health

NAF condemned a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a federal law banning certain abortions. The Bush Court clearly put politics ahead of protecting women's health.

"This decision is a major setback for women's health," said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. "It undermines the health protections afforded by Roe v. Wade and opens the door for politicians to pass additional laws that could further jeopardize women's safety."

The federal abortion ban interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and the ability of doctors to make appropriate medical decisions. We will be working with our member physicians to ensure that women continue to have access to safe, quality abortion care.

NAF has been on the forefront of challenging this dangerous ban and we need your support to continue our efforts to protect women's health.

> Donate now

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Abortion Rights Groups Call on New Brunswick to Enact Security Measures to Protect Abortion Providers, Clinics, and their Patients

Here is the press release we issued today:

The National Abortion Federation (NAF), New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women (ACSW) and the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) are calling on Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Consumer Affairs, Hon. Thomas J. Burke, Q.C., to introduce legislation to establish an access zone around facilities providing abortion services, residences of doctors and service providers, and doctors’ offices in New Brunswick.

Similar legislation has already been enacted in British Columbia which created an access zone around the boundaries of abortion clinics.

Abortion clinics and providers in Canada have been targeted for violence and harassment by anti-abortion extremists,” said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. “We urge New Brunswick to follow the lead of British Columbia and enact legislation to protect patients, providers and the communities in which they live.”

Establishing an access zone is extremely important for the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, where there is no patient parking on site. Patients must park across the street in a parking lot and walk to the clinic.

“On days abortion services are provided, protestors march outside the clinic carrying signs designed to discourage women from entering. Our patients have made their choice and do not deserve to be intimidated or harassed,“ said Simone Leibovitch, Manager of the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic and member of ARCC. “Volunteer escorts are recruited to assist women as they enter and leave the Clinic.”

Although protesters are not allowed on private property, there was recently an incident with protesters when the police had to be called when protesters have come onto the clinic’s property.

"If New Brunswick had access zone protection, anti-choice demonstrators could not continue their unacceptable interference. Women who access this legal health care service and the staff who provide it must be treated with respect for their dignity and privacy," affirmed Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, ACSW Chairperson.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Jury Fails to Convict Anti-Abortion Extremist

Yesterday a jury failed to convict Rev. Norman Weslin of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The FACE Act 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. According to clinic staff, Weslin entered the clinic and blocked the door while he harassed patients and clinic workers. Weslin has served time in prison for blockading a clinic, and is a member of the anti-abortion extremist group the Lambs of Christ.

>Learn more about anti-abortion extremists.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Quebec Government Plans to Repay Women For Abortion Fees

The Government of Quebec has established a claims process and will begin paying women who won a class-action lawsuit over supplementary fees they were required to pay for abortions between 1999 and 2006. In August the government was ordered to repay over $13 million to approximately 45,000 women who paid additional fees for their abortion care at private clinics and health centers. The Quebec Superior Court ruled that the women should not have incurred additional charges since abortion is covered under the Quebec Health Insurance Act.

>Find forms and learn about the claims process.
>Learn more about abortion access in Canada.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Alabama Man Sentenced to Probation for Clinic Attack

On Thursday, an Alabama man was sentenced for driving his car into a Tuscaloosa abortion clinic in January 2006. Dalton Ray Skinner was ordered to pay $6,100 in damages, serve five years of probation, and live in an in-house substance abuse center until he successfully completes the treatment program. The judge also ordered Skinner to stay at least 200 feet away from the West Alabama Women’s Center.

Skinner was charged in April with violating the
Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) 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 faced a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. It is disappointing that he only received probation. The enforcement of the FACE Act has had a significant impact on the decline in extreme violence against abortion providers in recent years.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

South Dakota Senate Rejects Three Abortion Measures

While the South Dakota House of Representatives passed a dangerous abortion ban yesterday, state senate committees defeated three bills aimed at restricting abortion access.

SB172 would have required doctors to inform women that they cannot be forced to have an abortion as part of the state’s required informed consent. SB171 would have required abortion providers to post a sign at their facilities stating such coercion is not allowed. Both bills were deemed unnecessary by lawmakers and defeated in committee. Also defeated was a bill passed by the South Dakota House that would have required abortion providers to offer women seeking abortion care the chance to view sonograms.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Prevention First Act Introduced in House of Representatives

Representative Slaughter (D-NY) and Representative DeGette (D-CO) introduced the Prevention First Act in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday. Passage of this Act would improve women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care services; fund medically accurate sex education and pregnancy prevention programs for teens; and increase federal funding for Title X, the nation’s family planning program.

Title X is the only federal program designed to fund family planning and reproductive health care services. More than 5 million low-income individuals annually take advantage of these preventative health care services. However, the Bush Administration has repeatedly attacked the Title X program. In addition to inadequately funding the program, last year
Bush appointed anti-birth control ob-gyn, Dr. Eric Keroack to the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, which oversees the Title X program.

The Prevention First Act calls for funding for a public education campaign focusing on emergency contraception (EC), and requires emergency rooms to provide victims of sexual assault with EC. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Reid (D-NV).

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Florida Woman Arrested After Reporting Rape

Over the weekend a 21-year-old Florida woman called the police to report she had been raped while leaving a local parade, but during the investigation officers discovered the woman had an outstanding warrant for failure to pay restitution on a juvenile crime and arrested her. Even though she was given emergency contraception by a rape crisis center just before her arrest, she claims she was denied the second dose by a medical worker at the jail because of the worker’s religious beliefs. After the woman’s lawyer alerted the media, she was released from jail on Monday and given the second dose of emergency contraception a day late.

Tuesday the
Tampa Police Department changed its policy concerning victims of sexual assault with past records. Under the new policy, shift commanders will have the authority to delay arrests for victims reporting a violent crime.

>Learn more about emergency contraception.

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