Daaaaammmnnn. When an old Jewish white guy appointed to the judicial bench by Ronald Reagan legitimately schools the Obama administration on its discrimination against young women of color in the realm of reproductive freedom, you know that American politics have gone far off the rails …
“It turns out that the same policies that President Bush followed were followed by President Obama,” said District Court Judge Edward Korman on Tuesday morning, in a charged and dramatic two-hour hearing in which the Obama administration defended its arbitrary policy to limit contraceptive access.
Korman was explaining why, when previously ruling on access to Plan B emergency contraception, he had initially waited for the administration to act on its own and make the drug widely available based on scientific evidence, rather than on politics. “The process had been corrupted by political influence. I remanded because I thought with a new president” things would be different, Korman said. But in 2011, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius overruled, with the president’s explicit blessing, the FDA’s recommendation to lift all age restrictions, which Korman ruled in March was a decision made in “bad faith” because of the politics around sex and contraception. He ordered the administration to lift all restrictions. Instead, it accepted a manufacturer’s petition to make Plan B available over the counter only with photo ID showing the purchaser was at least 15, and the Department of Justice is appealing.
This morning, Korman repeatedly slammed his hand down on the table for emphasis, interrupting the government counsel’s every other sentence with assertions like, “You’re just playing games here,” “You’re making an intellectually dishonest argument,” “You’re basically lying,” “This whole thing is a charade,” “I’m entitled to say this is a lot of nonsense, am I not?” and “Contrary to the baloney you were giving me …” He also accused the administration of hypocrisy for opposing voter ID laws but being engaged in the “suppression of the rights of women” with the ID requirement for the drug.
Frank Amanat, arguing on behalf of the administration, said that the court had overreached by ordering a particular policy rather than remanding to the agency for further review. But he could not say, in response to repeated demands from Korman, that the result would be any different if it were returned to the agency. Nor did he specify any harm that would come from making the drug more available.
“The irony is that I would be allowing what the FDA wanted. This has got to be one of the most unusual administrative law cases I have ever seen,” Korman said, adding, “I would have thought that on the day I handed down my decision, they would be drinking champagne at the FDA.”
Korman said the administration had engaged in a “choreography”: “First the president makes a speech to Planned Parenthood and throws them a kiss. The next day you grant an application from 2012″ to make it available with ID for 15 and up, in an attempt to “sugarcoat” the appeal of Korman’s order to lift all restrictions. (The decision was actually announced a couple of days after the Planned Parenthood speech.)
The government didn’t argue the merits of requiring a photo ID or that the drug only be sold in locations with an on-site pharmacy, but Korman made clear why he found that to be an inadequate compromise: “You’re using these 11- and 12-year-olds to place an undue burden on women’s ability to access emergency contraception. If it’s an impediment to voting, it’s an impediment to get the drug.”
He cited Brennan Center statistics — which he said Eric Holder had also cited in a speech before the NAACP — showing that 25 percent of African-Americans of voting age don’t have a photo ID, and also dismissed the government’s suggestion that 15-year-olds, who usually aren’t eligible for a driver’s license, could use a birth certificate, since that’s not a photo ID. ”You’re disadvantaging young people, African-Americans, the poor — that’s the policy of the Obama administration?” (He didn’t mention it, but immigrants would also face additional barriers.)
In the first quarter of 2013, states have proposed 694 provisions related to a woman’s body, how she gets pregnant, or how she chooses to end that pregnancy.
A new report released on Thursday by the Guttmacher Institute takes a comprehensive look at how the War on Women has continued past the election cycle and into 2013. It shows that the new legislatures across the country are still very much dedicated to restricting sex education, availability of medication, and abortion access for women. Indeed, 47 percent of the 694 provisions were directly related to abortion:
"During the first three months of 2013, legislators in 14 states introduced provisions seeking to ban abortion prior to viability. These bans fall into three categories: measures that would prohibit all abortions, those that would ban abortions after a specified point during the first trimester of pregnancy and those that would block abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization (the equivalent of 22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period, the conventional method physicians use to measure pregnancy). All of these proposals are in direct violation of U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
"Legislators in 10 states have introduced proposals that would ban all, or nearly all, abortions. In eight states (AL, IA, MS, ND, OK, SC, VA and WA), legislators have proposed defining “personhood” as beginning at conception; if adopted, these measures would ban most, if not all, abortions.”
Seven states are edging closer to achieving full approval for laws that would reduce or essentially eliminate abortion access.
Okay, Sandra Fluke just killed it. The only speech so far at the DNC where i didn’t feel like dry-heaving at some point. Just a pleasure to see her call out the misogynistic, sexist bigots who populate the government and are leading the attack on women’s right to contraception, abortion, and health care.
[If only the Democrats in Congress would actually fight for women, rather than just resting on their laurels as the GOP — and anti-abortion Democrats in their own ranks, ahem, Nelson-Stupak — hand American women defeat after defeat].
Texas turned down $35 million in federal funds for Medicaid Women’s Health Program. This means that at least 300,000 low-income and uninsured women in Texas will have no or greatly-reduced access to basic reproductive health care.
A proposed bill in Arizona requires women to prove to their employers that they need birth control in order to treat a medical condition if they want their prescription to be covered by their insurer.
Today, women pay 50% more than men for the very same health coverage. Being a woman is not a pre-existing condition.
Boston City Hall // 10am - 3pm
… the majority of the public rejects such arguments [about a woman’s sexuality such as those put forward by Rush Limbaugh], even when they’re couched in terms of freedom of religion, like the “debate” earlier this year about contraception and insurance.
More than six in 10 respondents to a Bloomberg poll—including almost 70 percent of women—said they saw the debate over employer-provided contraceptive coverage as a matter of women’s health and not religious freedom. That’s because birth control and preventing unwanted pregnancies aren’t religious questions—they are about women’s health.
By 1965, more than 6.5 million women in the U.S. used the pill,… [but] women still had to prove they were married in order to obtain a prescription for the pill, and this form of contraception was hard to obtain even up to 1967.
… Conservatives want to stigmatize women and stigmatize sex, but this contradicts the way real people think and live. A woman can’t be liberated unless she has the ability to control what happens to her own body—and yes, that includes the right to have sex, and the right to birth control.
For serious, y’all. There is a straight-up war on women being waged right now, from Arizona to Kansas, where a recent bill would impose a 6.3% tax on all abortions and would allow doctors to lie to women about their pregnancy.
I actually think some of the brouhaha around the question of contraception being covered under employer-supported health plans has more to do with greedy bosses than about religious freedom. Employers everywhere are currently trying to cut workers’ health care benefits in order to raise profits, and what better way to make additional cuts than by targetting an historically-oppressed and scapegoated section of the population? And by framing it in terms of religion, employers not only get to save money on their female employees’ health plans, but also get to feign moral righteousness.
Also, it has to be said that while the Republicans are behind some of the more outrageously misogynistic bills currently being bandied about in state legislatures, the Democrats have also been pushing their share of attacks on women these days: from Nelson/Stupak, to the Democratic Party’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to these particular sly Chicago Democrats.
Yes, there is a war on women being carried out by bigoted employers and their paid-for politicians. I say, if it’s a war they want, then we should give it to them. And I’m not talking about the ballot … No war in history has been waged using votes (not to mention votes in a corrupt electoral system).
Women in Arizona trying to get reimbursed for birth control drugs through their employer-provided health plan could be required to prove that they are taking it for a medical reason such as acne, rather than to prevent pregnancy.
A bill nearing passage in the Republican-led Legislature allows all employers, not just religious institutions, to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage when doing so would violate their religious or moral beliefs.
When a female worker uses birth control pills, which can be used to treat a number of medical conditions, the bill would allow an employer who opted out to require her to reveal what she was taking it for in order to get reimbursed.
This is awesome, but they also need to walk out of their own Party which has for years been ceding miles of ground to the right-wing on the question of abortion and reproductive justice.
I’m through with any Party which will not proudly stand up and lead the charge in the fight for women’s rights. Period. I’m done with compromise and niceties. We need revolutionary social tumult. Nothing more, nothing less.
Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the House Oversight Committee’s hearing on the White House mandate requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage after Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) refused to allow women to testify as witnesses on Thursday morning.
“What I want to know is, where are the women?” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) asked Issa before walking out of the hearing after the first panel. “I look at this panel, and I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventative health care services, including family planning. Where are the women?”