Tag Archives: reproductive rights

California Pushes Back on the War on Women

By Maggie Crosby, ACLU of Northern California

Across the country we’re seeing ongoing attacks on access to reproductive health care. Massive attacks. The Guttmacher Institute released data last week detailing that, just a few months into 2012, hundreds of provisions to restrict abortion access have been introduced in state legislatures around the country. Several have already been enacted. Now, more than ever, it’s vitally important that California move in the opposite direction and continue its role as a national leader in ensuring that women have access to reproductive health care.

State Senator Christine Kehoe introduced SB 1338, which would remove barriers to care by allowing nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants to perform early abortions after completing thorough training. (An extensive study conducted by the University of California San Francisco showed that these trained medical professionals provide this care as safely as doctors.)

SB 1338, the Safe and Early Access bill, will be heard in Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee next week on Monday, April 23.

Roughly half of California’s counties lack an accessible abortion provider. As a result, many women delay treatment because they have to travel long distances or raise money for transportation and services. Consider the story of Jane, a single mom living near Lake Tahoe. She was not able to obtain an abortion at her local provider. Instead she had to take Amtrak to San Francisco to have an abortion. Because of the train schedule, she arrived the day before her appointment and had no place to stay. She spent her first night in the hospital’s bathroom, saving her money for food. No one should face these kinds of hurdles to access a safe and legal medical procedure.

The Safe and Early Access bill would remove these barriers to care by allowing specially trained health professionals to provide early, safe abortion services in the communities they serve. It would also help overcome other barriers such as long wait times for appointments that woman in urban areas face when seeking health care services.

Most women already receive basic reproductive health care from clinicians like nurse practitioners. And these clinicians currently provide medication abortions as well as services like vasectomy and colonoscopy.

Passing this bill would allow women in every part of our state to receive early, safe abortion care from providers they already know and trust, in their own communities.

Affirming the importance Californians place on protecting women’s reproductive health and rights, March 2012 polling by the Public Policy Institute of California showed overwhelming public support for legal abortion. It’s time to take the next step, California. Let’s make these rights a reality for all women in our state.

When Will California Stop Shackling Pregnant Women?

By Bethany Woolman, Communications Fellow, ACLU of Northern California

In California, we shackle pregnant women in prison.

And despite widespread opposition, we will continue to do so.

Last week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have ordered county jails and prisons to stop shackling pregnant women. The bill, AB1900, required new guidelines on restraining pregnant women and would have encouraged counties to adopt these policies. It had overwhelming bipartisan support and passed the legislature without a single “no” vote.

The governor, however, opted to let the dangerous practice of shackling pregnant women continue.

As I type, jails and prisons across the state are forcing pregnant women to walk with shackles around their swollen ankles, chains around their middles, and handcuffs behind their backs – even through the first minutes of labor. This practice is inhumane.

The bottom line is this: shackling a pregnant woman puts her health at risk. Doing so can result in nasty falls and cause miscarriage or other serious injuries. Accordingly, doctors have opposed the use of shackles on pregnant women.

And it gets worse.

Although it’s already against California law to shackle women during labor, AB1900 would have gone further to prevent shackling of women at all stages of pregnancy while they are in transit. Disturbingly, only one third of county jails currently enforce pre-existing law preventing shackling of women in labor, making the passage of AB1900 even more crucial. This is unacceptable. Shackles can impair a doctor’s ability to treat a woman in labor in an emergency situation, putting her health at risk. No doctor should have to argue with correctional officers over when to unshackle a patient.

Shackling these women is cruel and unusual punishment – a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Incarcerated pregnant women have a right to safe treatment during pregnancy and delivery. The use of shackles violate that right and puts the health of pregnant women at risk. Kudos to the supporters and advocates who work every day to unshackle pregnant women, and to the legislature for advancing the bill. And shame on Gov. Schwarzenegger for keeping such a barbaric policy in place.

Although it is regretful that the governor clearly undermined the legislature on this issue, it is heartening that AB 1900 passed both houses of the California legislature with tremendous support from across the political spectrum. A tide of public opinion and awareness is turning. The movement to end the shackling of pregnant women is growing. This year Washington state joined ranks with a handful of other states to limit the shackling of women in labor. We hope that in the future these protections will extend to women in all stages of pregnancy. Let’s keep the drumbeat going.

California’s Military Women Support Our Freedom. Shouldn’t We Support Theirs?

Imagine you’re a soldier stationed overseas and discover you’re pregnant. If you want to have an abortion but are living in a country where it’s illegal, you might as well be living in pre-Roe v. Wade America. Why? Current federal law prohibits almost all abortion services at U.S. military hospitals, even if a woman pays for the procedure herself.

By Maggie Crosby, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California

Imagine you’re a soldier stationed overseas and discover you’re pregnant. If you want to have an abortion but are living in a country where it’s illegal, you might as well be living in pre-Roe v. Wade America. Why? Current federal law prohibits almost all abortion services at U.S. military hospitals, even if a woman pays for the procedure herself. So, like a woman in the 1950s, you can fly to another country to obtain safe, legal abortion care (if you can afford to travel and can arrange leave) or take your chances with an unsafe, illegal, local or self-induced abortion.

Here in California, we are sending thousands of women into military service and have the highest proportion of female veterans of any state-and these numbers are growing. We have among the strongest laws in the country protecting reproductive rights. But when California servicewomen are shipped out of state or overseas, they are deprived of the fundamental right to make pregnancy decisions.

The ban, which has no exception for pregnancies that jeopardize a woman’s health, poses grave risks for women stationed in countries where abortion is outlawed. Coupled with a tremendously high number of incidents of sexual assault in the military, a disturbing scenario emerges. A new analysis from  the Guttmacher Institute documents that “the restrictions fall hardest on the most junior of enlisted ranks, who are also the most likely to have an unintended pregnancy.”

This ban on abortion at military facilities hasn’t always been in place. Prior to 1988, military women were allowed to use their own funds to obtain abortions on military bases overseas. Military officials had wisely recognized that at many overseas stations-or even isolated areas in the U.S.-safe and reliable civilian facilities that provide abortion care are not always available.  

An amendment to the pending National Defense Authorization bill would repeal the dangerous ban on privately funded abortion care and allow U.S servicewomen to use their own money to obtain abortion services at U.S. military facilities. Congress will likely pass the bill sometime in the fall. Since the  House version doesn’t include a repeal of the ban, it’s important to reach out to representatives to urge them to support reproductive health care for our soldiers.

California  congresswoman Jane Harman has said that military women are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq. Several studiesindicate that as many as a third of military women report rape or attempted rape during their military service. Department of Defense research reveals 3,230 reported sexual assaults in 2009, up 11 percent from the previous year. Servicewomen and veterans indicate that, due to incredibly low reporting rates, the actual number of sexual assaults of military women is much higher. DOD’s own statistics confirm low reporting rates.

Although the ban on abortion at military facilities includes an exception for rape and incest, it is meaningless when women in the military don’t feel that they can report sexual assault, especially if that assault is by commanders or fellow soldiers.I recently met with a young veteran who told me that when she reported being raped to her commander, his response was “What is it with you women? You’re the third this week.”

Journalist Kathryn Joyce reported the story of a 26-year-old Marine named Amy* who was stationed in Fallujah when she realized she was pregnant as a result of rape. Amy didn’t report the rape, fearing backlash from her male comrades. The abortion ban meant there was no other way to end her pregnancy. She attempted to self-abort using a cleaning rod from her rifle.

Lifting the ban would return the Department of Defense to the policy that existed for many years: women soldiers facing unintended pregnancies could obtain safe abortion care from doctors willing to provide it. It’s such a cruel irony that America’s young women who volunteer to protect our constitutional rights are denied theirs.

Congress should act now to end the ban on private funding of abortion at military facilities. Our Armed Services women deserve more from their country.


A Most Personal Decision

(This is an amazing post, a powerful defense of the right to choose. – promoted by Robert Cruickshank)

The question of what a woman should do when she is pregnant but does not want to raise a child is extremely personal for me.

It is the question that my birth mother, unmarried and eighteen years old, faced forty-three years ago.

This was before People v. Belous (1969) and Roe v. Wade (1973) established a woman’s fundamental right to decide whether to give birth.

Just a few months before I was born, California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the “Therapeutic Abortion Act,” which changed California’s criminal code to permit the termination of pregnancy by a physician when there was substantial risk that its continuation would “gravely impair the physical or mental health of the mother” or when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

I am not sure whether my birth mother would have qualified for a legal abortion under the “physical or mental health” requirements of the new law, but she could have risked terminating her pregnancy by illegal means – as more than 100,000 California women did every year before the Act’s passage. In fact, Governor Reagan said that he signed the new law to prevent the death and injury of thousands of California women each year from illegal and dangerous “back alley” abortions.

My birth mother decided not to have an abortion, and instead gave me up for adoption.

Of course, I’m happy with her choice – I would not be here otherwise.  I was raised by two loving parents who wanted and were able to care for me.  I have also had the incredible joy of being able to thank my birth-mother for her decision – reuniting with her and my two younger brothers several years ago.

I received a great gift from my birth-mother’s decision – but I would not have wanted her to have been forced by the government to give birth to me despite being unable at that time to properly care for a child.

Whether or not to have an abortion – or whether to give a child up for adoption – is a deeply personal and often painful decision for a woman or couple to make, and it is a decision they have to make based on their own faith and values, not someone else’s – and certainly not the government’s.

My opponent for the 70th Assembly District believes otherwise.

He believes that he has the right to impose his own faith and beliefs on every woman and family in California.  He has vowed to use his position in the legislature “to defend life from conception to natural death” – bringing back the days when thousands of women each year in California were forced to make the horrific choice between having unwanted children or illegal, dangerous abortions.  And he has already received thousands of dollars in contributions from groups outside our district that are determined to use the government to impose their particular faith on everyone else.

We cannot allow politicians and outside special interest groups to impose their own faith on every woman and family in California or allow the government to intrude into this most personal of decisions.

That’s why I need your help now to keep the decision whether to give birth a deeply personal decision based on one’s own faith and values, not someone else’s and not the government’s.

Melissa Fox

Candidate for California Assembly, 70th A.D.


Double Double Talk Talk

It seems the Bush administration has developed an exit strategy — unfortunately the target is right here on our home soil.  The still-in-office Bush administration is trying to kill two birds with one stone, and those birds are named Health Care and Reproductive Rights.

It is proposing a complicatedly worded (the main clause has a triple negative) rule.  It would demand that any organization or institution that receives federal aid from the Department of Health and Human Services will not be eligible for aid unless it signs a written certification saying that it will not refuse to hire providers, doctors or nurses that refuse to provide abortion and even many forms of contraception.  

This means that hospitals would have to consider hiring people who will deny the full range of choices available to women or they will be denied federal aid. Furthermore, state and local governments will not be allowed to deny grants to hospitals and clinics if they refuse to provide abortion and many forms of oral contraception.

To use their kind of language, this isn’t not bad for women.

It never ceases to amaze me that those without the gift of reproduction, like President Bush, are endlessly trying to regulate those who can.  This is the key reason why electing women matters – women legislators are historically champions for the issues that concern women most.  In fact, nationally statistics show that the majority of women favor some degree of choice over their reproductive rights. Roe v. Wade is the cornerstone that makes that possible. 


Experienced legislative stonecutters know full well that once voters allow the small chipping away at that foundation, it won’t be long before the whole thing is a pile of rubble. You don’t need a magnifying glass to see this is just another veiled attempt to weaken laws protecting our reproductive rights.  Consequently, equal representation for women is not born of the desire to merely level the playing field, it is essential to protecting the rights of the feminine sensibility.


We at the CALIFORNIA LIST understand that women legislators are the backbone for feminine liberties.  This is why the decline of elected women here in California is so disheartening.  Women in the California legislature peaked during the 1996 to 2000 electoral cycle with a total of 46 women in both the Senate and Assembly.  Today there are only 28 Democratic women and come November we stand to lose another 2 or 3 women due to term limits.


We must reverse this slow decline, so that women can have a stronger voice in our legislative process. 


Bettina Duval is the Founder of CALIFORNIA LIST.  Visit their official site or join them on Facebook  and MySpace.

CA-46: Who Needs Any More of Crazy Dana’s Insanity?

(Proudly cross-posted at Ditch Crazy Dana, Southern California’s resource for fighting back against the sheer insanity of Dana Rohrabacher. : ) – promoted by atdleft)

I’ve had it. I’m sick of it. And I won’t take it anymore. Dana Rohrabacher simply has to go. NOW!

Crazy Dana loved the Taliban. Crazy Dana still loves disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Crazy Dana dismisses the seriously distubing reality of global climate change as just “dinosaur flatulence”. Crazy Dana is vehemently anti-choice, even though he represents a pro-choice district. And now, Crazy Dana wishes death by terrorist attack upon the family members of ANYONE who has the nerve to call him out on his sheer insanity.

Simply put, Crazy Dana is batshit insane. In fact, TOO BATSHIT INSANE to even be allowed inside our nation’s Capitol, let alone serving another term in Congress. He doesn’t represent our values, and he can’t get our logic. This is the final straw, and now it’s time for us to plan how to restore sanity to our Congressional office.

(Follow me after the flip for more on how we can really DITCH CRAZY DANA…)

So what can we do to restore insanity to our Congressional office? Well, we need to let our neighbors know just how insane our member of Congress truly is. We are a coastal community that cares about our natural resources. We are a socially tolerant community that values women’s reproductive rights. We are a reasonable community that values pragmatic, common-sense solutions. And simply put, Crazy Dana doesn’t represent us on any of these issues.

Crazy Dana refuses to acknowledge the serious threat of global climate change. Crazy Dana wants to completely take away a woman’s right to choose. Crazy Dana wants natural gas drilling off our precious coast. And now, Crazy Dana wishes acts of terror upon family members of anyone who disagrees with his insane point of view. This is NOT someone who should represent us in Congress.

We need to let our neighbors know of Dana’s insanity. We need to let them know that Dana does not represent our values in Washington. We need to let them know that Dana is no “cool maverick”, but rather a far right extremist. We need to let them know that there are leaders in our community who are better fit to serve us in Congress. Basically, it’s time for us to begin organizing in the 46th. We cannot afford any more of Crazy Dana. We need to return to reason in this district. NOW!

SoCal ACTION ALERT: Fight Back the Supreme Court’s Strike Against Choice!

ALERT! The US Supreme Court has just delivered another blow to women’s reproductive rights. Earlier today, the court upheld the federal abortion ban that will prevent seriously ill women from terminating pregancies that threaten their health. This is a VERY FRIGHTENING DEVELOPMENT which throws women’s rights into complete limbo.

However, our local friends at Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties are NOT taking this lying down. They’re planning their next actions… AND THEY NEED OUR HELP! If you’re a progressive activist in Southern California, and if you care about women’s reproductive rights, then you need to follow me after the flip to find out how you can take action.

Here’s the email that I just got from my friend Serena at OC Planned Parenthood:

Dear Activists & Volunteers,

This morning the Supreme Court upheld the Federal Abortion Ban and let women’s health take a back seat to right-wing politics. At Planned Parenthood, we’re working hard to ensure that we can keep providing our patients with the best and safest health care possible under this dangerous law.

But we need your help…

Tomorrow, April 19th, from 10am 1pm, we’ll be assembling a HUGE mailing to alert our supports of this legal set-back and how we’re planning to respond. Please join us at our Administrative Offices in Orange for as long as you are able. In addition to assembling this mailing, I’ll give you an update on what this decision means, how it will affect our patients, and what we plan to do about it. We’ll also order lunch for those of you that are able to join us.

Please reply to this email ASAP to let me know if you’ll be available.
Thanks for all your support–and the website will be updated soon, so check www.pposbc.org for more info throughout the week.

To RSVP to join this emergency improptu action, please reply to Serena at [email protected]. We’ll need as many people as possible. If you can join me and other pro-choice activists tomorrow, I’m sure our friends at OC Planned Parenthood will definitely appreciate it.