Tag Archives: women’s health


Plan B and Ella Are Not Abortifacients, But False Claims May Hold Up In Court

RH Reality Check***My latest for RH Reality Check was published yesterday. Read the full post here.

An amicus brief recently filed by Bart Stupak and Democrats for Life of America in the Newland v. Sebelius birth control benefit lawsuit contends that the Newlands, their for-profit corporation Hercules Industries, and “millions of other Americans” oppose “being forced to cover medicines that are, or that may colorably be thought to be, abortifacients.” The arguments made in the brief are based on false claims that go against an overwhelming consensus about how emergency contraceptives work, based on “scientific research” pursued by agenda-driven religious extremists, who continue to assert that Plan B and Ella are abortion-inducing drugs when they are not. (Unsurprisingly, members of the medical community promoting these claims hail from organizations like the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Christian Medical Association.)

Plan B and Ella are not abortifacients. Plan B (the morning-after pill) and Ella prevent ovulation and prevent a woman from getting pregnant after sex. Nonetheless, those claiming that the birth control benefit infringes their religious liberty remain happily unconvinced. They believe a “colorable argument” exists that emergency contraceptives may prevent an already fertilized egg from implanting.  (“Colorable” is legalese for “barely passes the smell test, but enough to get by in court.”) Additionally, because birth control benefit detractors usually champion personhood— the notion that a fertilized egg is a person—they believe that interfering with the implantation of a fertilized egg is abortion and tantamount to murder.

[read the rest at RH Reality Check]


ABL and @Katie_Speak Discuss Abortion Rights on ‘Dangerous Conversation’

abl-bauhaus-smA few weeks ago, Katie Klabusich (aka @Katie_Speak) and I appeared on Dangerous Conversation with host Scott Legere. Topics ranged from reproductive rights, reproductive justice, abortion rights, choice, morality, libertarianism, and — I ask a question: Is abortion self-defense?

Also, I managed to have an entirely civil conversation with an anti-choice libertarian, which is, like, some sort of personal achievement for me.

Basically, we talked about lady business, because that’s how we do, and I endeavored to remain reasonable and classy because I’m a goddamn lady, that’s why.

Take a listen:

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The Vagina Tax

iwdPayday is rolling around. I’m going to look at my paycheck, and review the state and federal withholdings. I’ll grunt at my FICA and insurance costs. I won’t actually see a tax for having a vagina, but it will be there. I feel quite certain my employer practices fair pay, but in way too many cases women are not paid the same as male coworkers for doing the same job. For owning the same responsibilities. For living up to the same expectations.

I suppose some may look at this as a penis bonus instead of a vagina tax. Tomato, tomahto. Today is International Women’s Day, but before we go global I want to take a look at the United States. Women make seventy-seven cents on the man’s dollar. Not necessarily job for job, but this shows that while the glass ceiling may have cracked it is still firmly in place. Women’s rights are in the hands of politicians and courts, which is ridiculous in itself. Men don’t have to worry about sudden legislature telling them how they can treat their bodies if they were victims of a crime. Men don’t have to fear that they will have to pay more for certain medicines because a church down the road doesn’t approve. If a man is mugged, he isn’t judged for wearing a bright red shirt that clearly attracted the criminal.

If most men woke up in our world, they would take one look around and jump out a goddamn window.
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So What’s the Deal with the New Contraception Mandate Rules?

My latest article for RH Reality Check has been published:

Rending of garments has already begun in certain sectors of the blogosphere over the Obama administration’s proposed new rules regarding the contraception mandate (or, as I like to call it, the “birth control benefit.” “Mandate,” I think, feeds into wingnut teeth-gnashing about the Big Bad Government forcing them to do Shit They Don’t Like.)

Conservatives are alternatively gloating about how Obama is throwing women under the bus, and whinging that the new rules are still an affront to Jesus. Michelle Malkin and the other numbskulls at Twitchy published a post entitled: “Contraception mandate: Obama administration turns its back on the Sandra Fluke crowd.” The clowns at WorldNet Daily are claiming that Obama “blinked.”

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Roe v. Wade 40th Anniversary: Reproductive Justice for Women’s Health

Via Planned Parenthood:

This year marks the 40-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade. That’s 40 years of protecting every woman’s fundamental right to make her own personal medical decisions. Forty years of ensuring that abortion remains a safe and legal procedure for a woman to consider, if she needs it. But plenty of politicians are still fighting to take that right away. Abortion and politics shouldn’t still be an issue.

We won’t let them get away with it. On this 40th anniversary, those of us who trust women, who value women’s health and rights, have something to tell them: Roe is here for good.

Keep it safe. Keep it legal. Respect women.


Texas is Winning its Stupid War Against Planned Parenthood

Throughout the country, wingnuts and Forced Birthers have been creaming their collective Twinkie in outrage over funding for Planned Parenthood. This is nothing new. If only they can rid the world of the scourge that is Planned Parenthood, maybe peace will reign o’er the earth, and babies will rain from the sky — at least, that’s what they think.

John Boehner tried to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood during the Great Budget Showdown of April 2010.  President Obama told him to go pound sand. The Indiana legislature tried to cut off Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood when it passed HB 1210 in 2011.  The Seventh Circuit told Indiana to go pound sand. Arizona tried to defund Planned Parenthood by passing HB 2800, and — you guessed it — Arizona was told to go pound sand.

And that’s not all — in North Carolina, Kansas, and Tennessee, efforts to defund Planned Parenthood have been thwarted, even as more states attempt to stick it to Planned Parenthood.

And then there is Texas.

Texas tried to exclude Planned Parenthood from its federally-funded Women’s Health Program, but was smacked down by the Obama Administration. So Texas tried a new tactic (one that will likely be replicated in other states): It decided to create a state-funded Women’s Health Program specifically so it could exclude Planned Parenthood from it. (And a judge just said they could.)


Except, not really.

Texas can’t really afford it, for one. And for two — Planned Parenthood already doesn’t use federal funding for abortion.  The states that are freaking out about Planned Parenthood funding think they’re taking a stand against pro-abortion, abortion-loving abortionists, but, they’re not.  They’re just punching themselves in the face, and wasting time and money to do it.

The Right has been so successful in painting Planned Parenthood as abortion-crazed feminazis that the mere mention of Planned Parenthood results in Wingnut Derangement Syndrome. As a result, a cash-strapped state is taking wholly unnecessary steps to, essentially, put Planned Parenthood on double-secret probation. And because of that, nearly 50,000 Texans are going to have to find new doctors.

Look, we get it — you really really hate Planned Parenthood. But seriously? Stop it.  Planned Parenthood serves millions of low-income women who might otherwise go without healthcare entirely, and abortion services are a fraction — three percent — of the services Planned Parenthood provides.

No federal money is used for abortions.  No taxpayer money is used for abortions. Planned Parenthood’s abortion services are fiscally and geographically separate from the rest of the services it provides: there’s no commingling of funds, and there’s no chance of walking into a clinic for a pap-smear and accidentally getting an abortion.  So, while thumbing your nose at Planned Parenthood may score you additional ideological points, you’re not actually accomplishing anything aside from making it hard for women to obtain totally-not-abortion-related services, and wasting money you don’t really have in order to do it.

It’s spectacularly stupid.

[cross-posted at Balloon Juice]


Hobby Lobby To Defy Birth Control Benefit Mandate and Hopefully Go Bankrupt [updated]

20121228-163318.jpgYesterday, I told you that Justice Sotomayor rejected Hobby Lobby’s emergency appeal, thus requiring Hobby Lobby to suck it up, provide contraception access to its employees without copay, and wait for its case to proceed in district court.

Welp, Hobby Lobby is none too pleased with that decision, and has chosen to throw a million-dollar tantrum while it waits to  litigate the merits of its case at the lower court level. Hobby Lobby’s attorney stated today that Hobby Lobby will not follow federal law requiring it to adhere to the HHS mandate (aka, provide slut pills to its slutty lady-employees) and that it will risk incurring 1.3 million dollars in fines — per day — rather than follow the law:

Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby will defy a federal law that requires employee health care plans to provide insurance coverage for types of contraception that the firm’s owners consider to be “abortion-causing drugs and devices,” an attorney for the company said Thursday.

With Wednesday’s rejection of an emergency stay of that federal health care law by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Hobby Lobby and sister company Mardel could be subject to fines of up to $1.3 million a day beginning Tuesday.

“They’re not going to comply with the mandate,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the company. “They’re not going to offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan.”

As for the potential fines, Duncan said, “We’re just going to have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Setting aside the fact that Plan B is not an “abortion-inducing drug”, Hobby Lobby is being flat-out ridiculous. Why?


That’s right. Hobby Lobby used to provide what it views as baby-murdering drugs and only balked when the birth control benefit would require them to do so.

As I wrote back in September:

Hobby Lobby has got its bedazzlers all fired up for Jesus — except when it comes to actually making sure that its insurance policies didn’t already cover what it falsely calls “abortion-inducing drugs.” Like Wheaton College, Hobby Lobby’s claimed religious fervor is belied by its failure to perfectly adhere to its purported religious tenets.


Recently after learning about the nationally prominent HHS mandate controversy, Hobby Lobby re-examined its insurance policies to ensure they continued to be consistent with its faith. During that re-examination, Hobby Lobby discovered that the formulary for its prescription drug policy included two drugs—Plan B and Ella— that could cause an abortion. Coverage of these drugs was not included knowingly or deliberately by the Green family. Such coverage is out of step with the rest of Hobby Lobby’s policies, which explicitly exclude abortion-causing contraceptive devices and pregnancy-termination drugs. Hobby Lobby therefore immediately excluded the inconsistent drugs from its policies.”

As with Wheaton College, it seems that Hobby Lobby saw fit to ramp up its religious fervor only when it became politically expedient to do so. As such, Hobby Lobby’s complaints about religious freedom ring as hollow as they do false.

So spare me the religious jibber jabber and the feigned outrage. Just go bankrupt, and then go fuck yourselves.

In that order.

***Updated to reflect that Hobby Lobby is choosing to defy federal law, not a court order, and is throwing a million dollar tantrum while it litigates the merits of its case in district court.

[cross-posted at Balloon Juice]


The Sliding Scale of Sin: Tyndale Publishers and Contraception Without a Co-Pay

My latest article for RH Reality Check has been published:

Recently, the district court for District of Columbia granted a request by Tyndale House Publishers to block the Affordable Care Act birth control benefit ensuring that employer-sponsored health insurance include coverage of contraception without a co-pay. (Jessica Mason Pielko wrote about the ruling here.)

Like so many other organizations, both religious and secular, for-profit and non-profit, Tyndale’s complaints are the same: the birth control benefit in the ACA infringes upon their right to religious freedom:

Tyndale and its owners are Christians who are committed to biblical principles, including the belief that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of their conception/fertilization. But Defendants’ recently enacted regulatory mandate under PPACA forces Tyndale to provide and pay for drugs and devices that it and its owners believe can cause the death of human beings created in the image and likeness of God shortly after their conception/fertilization. The government’s mandate exempts what it calls “religious employers,” but denies that status to Tyndale House Publishers through its arbitrary definition.

What sets Tyndale apart from other companies challenging the birth control benefit, some of which have been successful in their challenges, and some of which have not, is that Tyndale is self-insured, whereas companies like Hobby Lobby purchase group health insurance plans from a commercial insurance carrier. In other words, Tyndale wholly assumes and underwrites the risk for providing health care to its employees (and pays for it out of its own coffers), while Hobby Lobby pays premiums to an outside insurance company. That it is self-insured means that Tyndale is paying directly for the insurance coverage of the contraception that it views as sinful, and the court found that this distinguishable fact rendered the birth control benefit sufficiently violative of Tyndale’s right to religious freedom.

(read the rest)

[via RH Reality Check]


Shorter Ross Douthat: Birth More Babies, Bitches!

Have a goddamn seat, sir.

20121202-124852.jpgRoss Douthat has (yet again) penned a piece befitting his nickname “Douchehat.” In his latest spectacularly abysmal attempt to be insightful, Douthat laments the decreasing fertility rates in America and implies — nay! — outright states that women who are “retreating from child-rearing” are lazy layabouts unwilling to make the sacrifice that is their earthly duty.

He scolds childless women, whether married or not, for being decadent — for not doing what they’re goddamn well supposed to do, which is have children and shut the fuck up about it:

In the eternally recurring debates about whether some rival great power will knock the United States off its global perch, there has always been one excellent reason to bet on a second American century: We have more babies than the competition.


America’s demographic edge has a variety of sources: our famous religiosity, our vast interior and wide-open spaces (and the four-bedroom detached houses they make possible), our willingness to welcome immigrants (who tend to have higher birthrates than the native-born).


Among the native-born working class, meanwhile, there was a retreat from child rearing even before the Great Recession hit. For Americans without college degrees, economic instability and a shortage of marriageable men seem to be furthering two trends in tandem: more women are having children out of wedlock, and fewer are raising families at all.


The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.

What do I even need to say about this nonsense? The doucherocketry erupts from the page. It is dripping in privilege of every sort — white, male, financial — and is borne of rank stupidity.

It may come as some surprise to Douthat, but most people do not have the privilege of living in a four-bedroom detached house. Most people are struggling to feed their kids and hold down minimum-wage jobs, even as the GOP increasingly makes public assistance more and more unavailable while sneering about how half the country needs to get over its burning desire to sit around and collect “free stuff” from the Kenyan-in-Chief.

If Douthat is so worried about the low birthrates in this country, and if he wants women to squeeze out little worker bee-babies that can contribute to this country’s economic growth by becoming taxpayers, entrepreneurs, and workers, he should focus more on what he glosses over in his article: Making it easier to plan for, have, and raise kids.

That means providing paid maternity and paternity leave; ensuring that women get paid as much as men do in the workplace; providing public assistance when families run into financial trouble; spending more money on public education and training programs; providing more and better student loan packages so parents can send their kids to college without going broke; ensuring that women have full access to healthcare, including contraception (because being able to choose when to have children is more beneficial for this country’s economic viability than forcing women to either remain celibate or to have oopsy-babies when they’re not ready.)

As for Douthat’s claims that those who choose not to have children are somehow being decadent, it is fairly obvious that he is saying that women who choose to remain childless are selfish or damaged in some way. And for that bit of 1950s thinking, I offer Mr. Douchehat a hearty “fuck you.”

As a side-note, I congratulate the headline writer for this particular piece of pablum. Since I cannot imagine that Douthat wrote the headline himself, I agree with djw at Lawyers, Guns, and Money :

First: Kudos to the headline writer, who I have to believe was entirely aware of the dark humorous effect of putting the phrase “More Babies, Please” directly above Douthat’s sneering visage.


[cross-posted at Balloon Juice]


Bush Appointee Rejects Hobby Lobby’s Arguments Against Birth Control Benefit

My latest piece for RH Reality Check has been published:

In the case brought by arts and crafts magnate Hobby Lobby against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), federal judge (and Bush appointee!) Joe Heaton, in denying the preliminary injunction sought by Hobby Lobby, has issued a stunning and forceful rebuke of the arguments offered by secular corporations seeking to deny health-care benefits to their employees.

First, Judge Heaton ruled that secular corporations do not have religious rights that are protected under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Second, Judge Heaton ruled that the birth-control benefit does not represent a substantial burden to individuals’ exercise of religion.

(Read the rest)

[via RH Reality Check]