Reproductive Justice Action Team

State laws are taking away our freedom of choice and Roe vs. Wade is fragile. Our team fights to maintain and further our reproductive rights and freedoms.


Welcome to our Reproductive Justice Blog space. This is the place to learn more about this important topic and actions we can all take in the continuing battle to promote access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion for all women.

Initiatives:
Reproductive Justice 


WOMEN BEWARE

OUR RIGHTS ARE GONE

WE NEED TO FIGHT

 

JOIN THE GWC REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE ACTION TEAM
[email protected]

On April 26,2021 Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt signed three anti-abortion bills into law, making abortion in Oklahoma nearly impossible to access.

HB 2441 is a “heartbeat” bill, which prohibits abortion once a “fetal heartbeat” has been detected. It only makes exceptions for cases where the mother’s life is in danger. Any provider who performs an abortion after a “fetal heartbeat” is detected would be charged with homicide. This measure essentially outlaws abortion after 6 weeks, often before the person is even aware of the pregnancy.

HB 1102 classifies the performance of an abortion as “unprofessional conduct” and revokes the medical license of any provider who performs an abortion for any reason other than to save the life of the pregnant person.

HB 1904 requires all abortion providers in the state to be board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. All three are set to take effect November 1of this year.

Together the three pieces of legislation make receiving an abortion in the state of Oklahoma almost impossible. The legislation will face legal challenges in court, most likely preventing it from taking effect in November.

Anti-abortion state legislators across the country have been ramping up the passage of similar bills in dozens of states. Anti-abortion advocates hope that the bills will form the basis of a legal challenge that will work its way to the now majority conservative Supreme Court and will eventually overturn Roe v. Wade. According to a report from Planned Parenthood that was released in March, 516 abortion restrictions have been introduced this year versus 304 in 2019.


What Other Countries Are Doing for Women and Abortion

If it’s good for the UK it’s good for the United States!!


Make home abortion permanently legal, English doctors say as published by the Times in February, 2021.

English doctors are calling for home medical abortions to be made permanently legal as figures show that allowing women to take pills in private without visiting a clinic cuts waiting times.

Temporary legislation was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic to allow women easier access to medical termination in their homes via phone and video consultations.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is among many organizations calling on the government to make the law permanent after the largest study of UK abortion care found it to be safe and effective.

Researchers studied more than 50,000 early medical abortions in England, Scotland and Wales between January and June last year, before and after the telemedicine service began.

Like in some States in the United States, before the pandemic, women had to attend an appointment to get an ultrasound scan and take medication within the clinic. Under the new system, consultations take place by phone or video, and medication can be taken at home if the pregnancy is ten weeks or less. This is NOT the case in many U.S. States where the Supreme Court judged recently that women have to go personally to the pharmacy to pick up the abortion pill.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, MSI Reproductive Choices (formerly Marie Stopes International) and the National Unplanned Pregnancy Advisory Service said that 80% of the women in the study had said telemedicine was their preferred option.

Dr. Abigail Aiken, associate professor of public affairs at the University of Texas and lead author, said: “We found that 98.8% of women were able to end their pregnancies without any further intervention and less than 0.05% experienced a serious complication. The outcomes for the traditional in-person model were almost exactly the same.”

Waiting times between consultation and treatment were cut from 10.7 days to 6.5 days and women received care much earlier in their pregnancy, according to the paper published in the BMJ.

There were no cases of significant infection requiring hospital admission or major surgery; no deaths occurred from early medical abortions at home.

Professor Dame Lesley Regan, chairwoman of the royal college’s abortion taskforce, said: “This study proves there is no medical reason not to make the current telemedicine service permanent.” She rejected arguments that changing abortion laws would lead to more women choosing to have one. She added: “Every day scores of desperate pregnant women put themselves in extreme danger by undergoing illegal and unsafe abortion.”

Join the Reproductive Justice Action Team of the DA Global Women’s Caucus.


Anti Choice Legislation: 2021 IS GOING TO BE A BATTLE YEAR 

This is based on a  Ms Magazine article which itself is drawn from information on the the Guttmacher Institute website : https://www.guttmacher.org/)

State lawmakers are facing multiple challenges in  2021: COVID 19, economy, racism, gerrymandering, voting restrictions,  and healthcare to name a few. But  despite all of these challenges, legislators have also made time to focus on restricting abortion rights. In the first two months of the year, eight abortion restrictions and bans have been enacted:

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Paid Family Leave

Paid Family Leave is a Necessity for all Americans
By: Salli Swartz

Many, if not most of us, live in countries where paid leave for maternity/paternity, and illness is provided by national law. That the United States remains the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarantee any type of paid family leave at the national level is a major failure of our Federal Government. Only six states and Washington, D.C., have adopted their own paid leave laws.

In our country, a national law is still a pipedream and the effects of the absence of such possibilities are catastrophic not only to infants, children and all parents, but in particular to women who bear the brunt of unpaid absences with loss of income and jobs.

“It is a national disgrace that our federal government does not guarantee paid family and medical leave for the American people,” said Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convenor, Black Women's Roundtable.

Democrats Abroad supports paid family leave, and our 2020 DA Platform (adopted in June 2020) clearly states:

All parents deserve an opportunity to support and bond with their children after birth, and all children deserve quality childcare. We advocate to extend policies to all American workers that provide both parents with six months paid parental leave which can be shared between the two parents. 

The current patchwork of state and federal paid leave policies leaves 80% of private sector workers and 74% of state and local government workers without paid family and medical leave. A majority of Americans cannot take paid time off to care for themselves or their families. This is bad for families and bad for the economy and bad for women. Furthermore, the lack of national paid leave disproportionately impacts low-wage workers and people of color. 

You may remember the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), was signed into law in 1993. It was a huge step because FMLA afforded certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. However, it provides for UNPAID leave only, and it only applies to private sector employers with 50 or more employees —leaving out as much as 56% of the U.S. workforce. Furthermore, it is not specific to maternity and paternity leave. Despite FMLA, only 16% of American employees currently receive paid leave through their employers.

Perhaps hope is just around the corner.

On the 28th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (the FAMILY Act) to create a permanent, national, paid family and medical leave program.

The FAMILY Act would ensure that every worker, no matter the size of their employer or whether they are self-employed or employed part-time, has access to paid leave for every serious medical event, when needed. The emergency paid leave provision that partially expired at the end of last year helped to prevent covered workers from having to choose between their paycheck or their health when they needed to stay home. Most importantly, DeLauro and Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act would create a permanent, paid family and medical leave program for all workers that provides up to 66% of wage replacement for 12 weeks.

Under the program, both employees and employers would make a small payroll contribution each week (around $2 for the average worker) to an insurance fund that would enable workers to earn 66% of their monthly wages for the duration of their leave.

Stay tuned for the Reproductive Justice Action Team, in coordination with the greater GWC, to begin actions to support this bill.

Join us in our fight for equality and justice for all women. Volunteer to help us.

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Is Motherhood For Sale?

 

Buried in that nearly 400-page New York State budget was a provision to legalize reproductive commercial surrogacy. Passed without the opportunity for legislative hearings or public debates, the law came into effect on February 15, 2021. Many countries, such as France,  have banned reproductive surrogacy for many reasons.  The DA Global Women’s Caucus Reproductive Justice Action Team takes this matter seriously and will be organizing a webex soon. In the interim, the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women is holding a webinar Feb. 25, 2021 at 12:30 p.m. EST for At the Edge of the Margins: New York legalizes commercial surrogacy — now what? This webinar is open to the public and you can register here.

Buried in that nearly 400-page New York State budget was a provision tolegalize reproductive commercial surrogacy. Passed without the opportunity for legislative hearings or public debates, the law came into effect on February 15, 2021. Many countries, such as France,  have banned reproductive surrogacy for many reasons.  The DA Global Women’s Caucus Reproductive Justice Action Team takes this matter seriously and will be organizing a webex soon. In the interim, the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women is holding a webinar Feb. 25, 2021 at 12:30 p.m. EST for At the Edge of the Margins: New York legalizes commercial surrogacy — now what? This webinar is open to the public and you can register here.


ALERT: ANTI CHOICE BILL IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA

The Judiciary Committee of the South Carolina Senate has voted in favor of a bill entitled “South Caroline Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act,” and it has gone to the floor of the Senate which passed the bill.

This is NOT a pro-choice bill.

It provides for a mandatory ultrasound with a display of the images, and a recorded written medical description of the images, of the unborn child’s fetal heartbeat.

If the pregnancy is at least 8 weeks after fertilization, the abortion provider must tell the woman that she can listen to the embryonic or fetal heartbeat and must give a written report stating that the fetus has a detectable heartbeat and, to the best of the doctor’s knowledge (or based on statistical data available) the fetus will survive to term based on the gestational age of the fetus.

Most importantly, it provides that no person shall perform, induce, or attempt to perform or induce an abortion before a physician determines whether the human fetus has a detectable fetal heartbeat and that if a fetal heartbeat is detected, no person can perform, induce, or attempt to perform or induce an abortion.

Violations are punishable by a find of $10,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than two years.

Exceptions cover medical emergencies which must be noted by a doctor (including the potential death of the women or a serious risk of a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman), rape, incest, fetal anomaly or lack of fetal heartbeat.

Abortions performed due to rape or incest must be reported by the doctor to the sheriff’s office.

The bill also creates a cause of action for a woman on whom an abortion was performed in violation of the law, and a woman to whom the mandatory information was not given. The bill specifies that any such woman can claim damages of $10,000, or an amount awarded by the judge, including court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

Next Steps

  • The bill will be sent to the House
  • The House will assign it to a committee
  • Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the bill and vote on it
  • If passed in subcommittee, the bill will be considered by the full committee
  • If passed by committee, the bill will go to the House floor
  • On the floor, the bill will receive three readings, and House members will have a chance to debate
  • If the bill is passed on the House floor with new amendments, the House and Senate will conference to resolve differences. Thereafter, both chambers would vote on the agreed bill.
  • If the bill is passed on the House floor without amendments, it will be sent to the governor’s desk. S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has vowed to sign the bill into law.

STAY TUNED. We are following this bill closely, and we will be in contact with a letter writing campaign as soon we feel it necessary to do so.

To help us defeat this bill and other similar bills, join our Reproductive Justice Team. Send an email to Salli Swartz [email protected]

 


FLASH GOOD NEWS

Last week, President Biden lifted the “Gag Rule” which prevented US aid to NGOs worldwide if they advocated for, recommended, mentioned or even hinted at abortion.

As you may surmise, this is very important and will help, not only our sisters all over the world, but women at home as well. This “Gag Rule” has historically been bounced around as an executive order since President Reagan in 1984, and makes it a fragile Presidential whim, subject to changing political winds. Fortunately, Senator Sheehan, (D) New Hampshire, has reintroduced legislation called the Global Health Empowerment and Rights Act (“HER”), that was first brought forward in 2017. Democrat Representatives Barbara Lee, Ami Bera (CA), and Jan Schakowsky (Illinois) have introduced the same bill in the House. The HER Act would codify in United States law, the right for NGO’s abroad to use their own funds to recommend and support abortion and post abortion services. Furthermore, because of the Act’s  broad application, it will stymy future Presidents who try to condition USAID on silence.

Make no mistake, this is not the major game changer that we are fighting for, but it is a step in the right direction. We now need to abolish the Hyde Amendment which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape, and our team will continue to develop more initiatives to fight for our rights.

For more details, see the editorial published by Sarah Wildman in the International New York Times on February 1, 2021: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/opinion/women-health-abortion-her-act.html

Join our GWC Reproductive Justice Team to help us fight for more, now. Contact Salli Swartz at [email protected]

In Solidarity,

Salli Swartz

 


Reproductive Justice January 2021 Update

In a statement to the Hill back in October 2020, Rep. Linda T. Sánchez declared that “according to Republicans, just being a woman is a pre-existing condition.” While the Affordable Care Attack (ACA) came under attack by Republican proposals for a sweeping new Healthcare agenda, the Gender Equity in Health Premiums Act, a bipartisan piece of incorporation into the ACA, was all but certain to be eliminated. That would have meant “that a new mom could have her maternity care not covered. A grandmother might put off critical preventive screenings — like a mammogram — because it’s no longer a covered health benefit. A middle-aged woman who survived COVID-19 might find that she now has a preexisting condition, and insurance companies refuse to pay for her care,” Sánchez stated. What was apparently clear in October for defenders of the ACA, and has been clear for all women across generations, is that our basic reproductive rights are not yet guaranteed. Based purely on the physiological differences that allow us to bear and give birth, “Women [would] find they were paying more for health care than men simply because they were women.”

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Voting Update

As many of you know, at the same time we voted for President, there were down ballot elections as well as propositions. Here is an update on State proposals restricting access to our reproductive rights.

The fight is far from over.

Watch this page for the date and time of our next Reproductive Rights Action Team conference call.

ABORTION

Louisiana added language to its Constitution stating that "nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion."

Colorado voted down a measure to prohibit abortions in Colorado after a fetus reaches 22-weeks gestational age.