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“I want to make UC Berkeley the first college in the country to provide medication abortion.”

In this op-ed, Marandah Rain Field-Elliot explains how she’s working to make the abortion pill available on college campuses in California.

On a February afternoon in 2016, I sprinted from my sophomore seminar through the pouring rain to a coffee meeting with Adiba Khan, the co-founder of the new campus group Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ). We quickly threw our soaked denim jackets on the floor, and she glanced around the room. She came in close and whispered, “I want to make UC Berkeley the first college in the country to provide medication abortion.” I haven’t looked back since.

As a student, I’ve seen firsthand the struggles my friends and classmates face when trying to get an abortion. Right now, no public university student health centers in our state provide abortion care — even though students live, work, and learn on campus. Offering abortion care at student health centers would help to make sure these services are available to all students who might need them, wherever they live or go to school or however much money they make. Students should not have to leave campus to see a provider they’ve never met, missing school and work shifts, when the abortion pill could be provided on campus.

Starting from nothing in the spring of 2016, SURJ built a campaign to bring the abortion pill to our student health center. Ultimately, we were able to obtain signatures of support for our initiative from more than 2,000 students and nearly 100 professors. But when we met with the director of our college health center in fall of 2016, we were told that the proposal was too costly. Undeterred, we applied for and were awarded a grant to cover the costs of medication abortion implementation — we were ecstatic. But we soon confronted another roadblock.

After meeting with the university administrators, also in fall of 2016, we got the impression that there seemed to be hesitation about implementing medication abortion on campus, perhaps due to the potentially polarizing political nature of the issue, not because it would be logistically difficult to do. Eventually we realized that we needed a legislative remedy.

At that moment, the efforts of a few dedicated students to get the abortion pill on our campus ignited a statewide effort to get the abortion pill in every public university student health center in the state. Today, students are working side by side with reproductive justice organizations, funders who’ve come forward to cover the costs of implementation, other supporters, and lawmaker champions to make this goal a reality.

Senate Bill 320, the College Student Right to Access Act, sponsored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino), would implement medication abortion at every University of California and California State University campus. On January 29, I sat in the back row of my political campaigns lecture class with the California Senate livestream on mute on my laptop and audibly gasped as I watched SB 320 get passed there. I witnessed something that started as a wild idea turn into a legitimate piece of potential legislation.

The power of SB 320 lies, of course, in the tangible benefit it would have for college students in California who need medication abortion. Students who seek medication abortion currently have to contend with significant burdens to accessing this procedure, including travel times, cost, and the difficulty in finding an appointment. SB 320 would help to eliminate those burdens by empowering students to receive medication abortion at a student health center that is accessible, affordable, and comfortable for them. That is the primary motivator for our work. However, the potential national precedent our bill would set cannot be understated. In the age of TRAP lawsattempts at 20-week abortion bans, and a president who vigorously speaks out against abortion, we are constantly fighting for the rights we already have. Understandably, the current rhetoric in the battle for reproductive freedom echoes cries of “we won’t go back” and “protecting our rights.” This response is politically necessary, but we can and must demand more.

As a queer youth, I am part of growing movement built on the important work of feminist activists before me to better include the multitude of experiences of people who seek an abortion. We understand that even when the opposition to abortion is presented through a distinctly misogynistic lens, we choose to fight for abortion access inclusively and without apology.

If SB 320 is signed into law, we will prove that medication abortion can be provided at student health centers. We will demonstrate that access to reproductive health is worth investing in. And, most powerfully, we will show once again that what started as a small group of young activists with a far-fetched idea can turn into something that changes the course of students’ lives.

Source: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/im-trying-to-make-medication-abortions-available-on-california-public-college-campuses

A new anti-abortion law in South Carolina would almost certainly go to the Supreme Court if passed

A Republican proposal that would effectively prohibit abortions in South Carolina is reaching the state Senate and, if its author has his way, the United States Supreme Court.

The bill, which was approved by a state Senate committee along party lines — a 12 to 9 vote — would grant legal rights to fertilized eggs from the moment of conception, according to The State. If passed, it would effectively make it impossible to receive a legal abortion in South Carolina. Because other so-called “Personhood laws” make a point of saying they are subject to the United States Constitution, while this one does not, it will quite likely be sent to the Supreme Court in the hope of overturning the landmark 1973 abortion rights case, Roe v. Wade.

That, apparently, is very much what its Senate author hopes to do.

“We are trying to challenge the Supreme Court on their fundamental error that a human being is not a person. A human being is a person,” State Senator Richard Cash told The State.

Cash has also made it clear that he has a very hardline stance against abortion rights of any kind. The bill says doctors who terminate a pregnancy during a procedure that risks the mother’s life must engage in “reasonable medical efforts” to save the fetus and does not make exceptions for abortions performed when the mother is the victim of rape or incest.

When confronted about the latter point by one of his colleagues, Democratic State Sen. Margie Bright Matthews, Cash insisted that while he believes the rape of children is “horrible,” he also felt that “two wrongs don’t make a right. You cannot erase the rape by killing the child. The child is an innocent person.”

The bill even failed to include language that could have clarified that it is not intended to outlaw birth control. Although it doesn’t make birth control illegal, Cash argued that “birth control pills, the way that they are formulated, have and could change over time.”

One Republican state senator who abstained from voting on the bill, Sen. Sandy Senn, explained that she did so because she didn’t want to vote against an anti-abortion measure but also had reservations about the constitutionality of the current bill, according to The Post and Courier.

The approval of the South Carolina proposal comes in the middle of a week in which anti-abortion politicians have been making headlines with unusual frequency. The Wisconsin State Senate approved a bill that would make sure public workers’ insurance does not cover abortion in most cases, according to The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

In Idaho, a group of college students who were scheduled to meet with Republican State Sen. Dan Foreman to discuss birth control and sex education were rudely rebuffed by the right-winger. Foreman was recorded shouting at them, “Abortion is murder. Next time you walk into my office, you’ll be dealing with Idaho State Police.”

He added, “I’m a Roman Catholic and a conservative Republican. I think what you guys are doing stinks.”

Source: https://www.salon.com/2018/02/21/south-carolina-senate-panel-approves-bill-that-would-effectively-ban-all-abortions/

A measure that made “pregnancy service centers” tell clients if the facilities have medical staff, or don’t offer or refer for services such as abortion or birth control, was hampered by lack of clear, accessible information about how to report violations.

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) issued its first fines to an anti-abortion fake clinic this winter, even though it adopted a rule almost two years ago saying it would do so. In December, the city issued $1,500 worth of fines to EMC Frontline for failing to post required signage and disclosures at their facility and online.

The signage is meant to alert clients seeking abortion and emergency contraception about what services they can and can’t receive at a “pregnancy service center” (PSC), which try to convince women out of getting abortions and spread false information about the procedure. The confusion is especially precarious for pregnant women who want an abortion—a time-sensitive procedure. Planned Parenthood NYC estimates that there are about 12 of these centers in New York City. EMC Frontline, based in the Bronx, operates facilities in four New York City boroughs.

In 2011, the city passed Local Law 17, creating specific restrictions for “pregnancy services centers”—facilities that aren’t regulated by the Department of Health but provide ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, and “counseling.” The law requires that these centers clearly disclose whether there is a licensed medical provider on site; whether they provide abortion, emergency contraception, and prenatal care; or if they provide referrals for these services.

In May 2016, the city passed a rule requiring this disclosure be made on an 11 x 17 inch sign posted at the entrance and in any area where clients receive services; shared orally with their clients; and included on every page of their website, each post on social media, and in their advertisements. According to the rule, the fake clinic must state in English and Spanish: “This facility does not have a licensed medical provider on-site to provide or supervise all services.” If the facility failed to post the disclosure, it would be fined by the city.

“The rulemaking was very specific,” said Danielle Castaldi-Micca, director of political and government affairs at the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH). “You shouldn’t be allowed to hide a really important disclosure.”

Violating the rule can cost clinics between $200 and $1,000 the first time, and between $500 and $2,500 for subsequent violations. Three fines in two years could temporarily close the facility for up to five days. After paying the fine, the fake clinic has the opportunity to appeal in a hearing in the DCA’s administrative court. The court will determine whether or not the fake clinic is guilty, and the facility has the right to appeal a second time.

According to Castaldi-Micca, members of the public can report lack of proper signage and information by calling the city’s 311 nonemergency number or completing an online form. She explained that, after a significant volume of complaints, the DCA would likely investigate.

In the almost two years since the rule took effect, only two fines—the ones for EMC Frontline—have been issued. EMC Frontline was fined twice, for failures to post the signage disclosure in person and include it online. Three notices of violation were issued to another well-known facility, Avail NYC. Two violations are for signage and one is for failure to keep client information confidential. As of this writing, Avail’s hearing is pending, and whether it’s guilty or not guilty has yet to be determined by DCA’s administrative court.

Elizabeth Adams, director of government relations at Planned Parenthood of New York City, said that between the original passing of the rule and the first fines being issued, the Department of Consumer Affairs wasn’t receiving complaints from 311, which could have prompted an investigation.

“In the period since the law was enacted, several complaints had been made that hadn’t gotten to the investigation staff,” Adams said. “From what the Department of Consumer Affairs has said, there was an internal disconnect between complaints made and investigations that went out.”

The Department of Consumer Affairs said in an email statement that “as of November 2017, DCA has received 23 complaints alleging that pregnancy service centers are failing to post the licensed medical provider disclosure. As of January 2018, DCA conducted 26 inspections, including all locations reported by the complaints.” Two of the inspections resulted in the EMC fines.

But many patients—and even health-care professionals—don’t even realize they can complain about an anti-choice fake clinic in the first place.

“A lot of doctors and nurses who are providing abortion don’t even know that there is such an ordinance or what options we have for reporting,” said Dr. Anne Davis, consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health. “There is so much stigma about abortion. People don’t want to call up and say, ‘Oh, this happened to me.’”

The number of complaints may be relatively low because affected people don’t know the law and because the online form to report can be difficult to find.

During a phone complaint, the 311 representative has to be familiar with Local Law 17 and understand that the complaint should be sent to the Department of Consumer Affairs. That can be confusing, since the complaint is about a center that calls itself a clinic or can be perceived as a health center.

Castaldi-Micca said that until at least September 2017, complaints about the centers were likely not getting logged to the Department of Consumer Affairs for this reason. Chances were that the complaint was being logged to the Department of Health or another agency instead.

“I think there were some stumbles with the keyword process,” she said. “In the legislation, [the centers] are called limited service pregnancy centers, so that was the original keyword. But that is legislative language, not language the general public uses. We worked with DCA and 311 to get what we think are more logical keywords to help ping that more appropriately. 311 is an enormous system, and it’s hard to do.”

The organization she works for, NIRH, worked to ensure that other keywords, like “crisis pregnancy center,” “abortion,” and “free pregnancy test” in combination with words like “deceived” or “fake” or “confused” were recognition words for the 311 complaint.

DCA did not respond to a comment on whether their inspectors and 311 staff have training on Local Law 17.

EMC Frontline founder and President Chris Slattery, in the meantime, plans to appeal his charge in the DCA’s administrative court.

DCA can also enforce Local Law 17 through proactive inspections, which prompted the fining of EMC Frontline last fall.

In a December administrative hearing and a recent Rewire interview, Slattery said his facilities are exempt from Local Law 17 because they do not meet the legal definition of pregnancy services centers (which includes multiple factors such as offering pregnancy tests and having medical supplies or examining rooms) when he doesn’t have medical supervision at his center.

“We were providing medical supervision of the medical services we were providing,” Slattery said. “On the days that we did not have medical supervision, we were exempt from the law.”

He said that when his center performs ultrasounds, he has medical supervision and therefore doesn’t need to post the disclosures saying there is no medical supervision. When there aren’t clinicians, he claimed, the facilities still don’t meet the criteria to be classified as pregnancy services centers.

The hearing officer did not accept Slattery’s defense. EMC Frontline was found guilty on the two charges. After the inspections last fall, Slattery said that the DCA inspectors told him that the EMC Frontline “would be inspected on an every two-month basis.”

“It is my understanding that the problem at that clinic has not been rectified,” said Castaldi-Micca. “That says to me that there should, in fact, be more fines.”

The question of whether many of these facilities meet the legal definition of a “pregnancy services center” may be another reason the number of fines has been low.

An email statement from the DCA said about their inspections that “the majority of the facilities visited do not provide ultrasounds, sonograms, or prenatal care, meaning they must be analyzed for the appearance of a licensed medical facility. After careful consideration of the relevant factors, it was determined most of the facilities did not meet the legal definition and were therefore not required to post the disclosure.” Documents gathered from several other centers are currently under review by the DCA attorneys to determine whether the sites met the legal definition of a pregnancy services center.

But Elizabeth Adams isn’t sure that tells the full story. She says that in a New York City Council hearing on the matter in November 2017, DCA General Counsel Michael Tiger stated that DCA hadn’t gone past the front room in some of the facilities to assess if they meet the full definition of a pregnancy services center.

“I would challenge the notion that a lot of these places don’t meet the legal definition of crisis pregnancy centers,” Adams said. “They didn’t conduct a full investigation. They asked to have access into the facility and were told [by the centers], ‘No, you can’t go beyond here.’”

Adams says she thinks it’s quite possible that the facilities inspected had rooms and equipment that would have required them to follow Local Law 17 and post the required signage.

Reproductive health groups say that this kind signage is important because it helps women who might not know that the center isn’t a medical center. For women seeking abortions, the difference between a sign and no sign can be carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.

The disclosures about services were specifically designed to protect consumers from deception. But it is also an effort to look out for women who are especially vulnerable to misinformation.

Davis, of Physicians for Reproductive Health, says that women of color, lower-income women, recent immigrants, and people with limited English and health literacy are most likely to be vulnerable to the confusion between an abortion clinic and a fake clinic.

“They are more likely to need abortion because they are more likely to have fewer resources.”

Adams said that while many fake clinics are still not in compliance, the recent fines show that the government is taking a step toward oversight.

“The fact that we have seen violations of this law issued shows that it is enforceable and that these facilities are violating the law.”

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/02/20/two-years-rule-change-nyc-issues-first-fines-fake-anti-abortion-clinics/

CreditPaul Rogers

Although teenage pregnancies and birthrates in the United States have been declining steadily since 1990, the nation still leads the developed world in these challenging statistics.

I say challenging because 82 percent of teen pregnancies and births are unplanned and nearly always unwanted. They often disrupt a girl’s education and life goals and sometimes result in shotgun marriages with poor long-term survival.

The falling pregnancy rate is not a result of a decline in teenage sexual activity, which experts say has remained steady for decades. Nor does abortion, which has dropped along with pregnancies, account for fewer teen births.

Rather, the data indicate that more teens now use contraception when they have sex. Still, too many fail to use the most effective methods or use them incorrectly or inconsistently, resulting in ill-timed or unwanted pregnancies. Even informed teenagers may have trouble accessing contraceptives: A new report by the Guttmacher Institute found that 24 states do not allow minors to receive contraceptives without parents’ permission.

Condoms, sold over-the-counter and sometimes distributed free in schools, are the most frequently used contraceptives by teens. But while key to preventing sexually transmitted infections, in practice condoms are among the poorest means to prevent pregnancy — better only than withdrawal. Currently, the most effective methods — so-called long-acting reversible contraceptives — are least often used by adolescents.

“Teens today get much more information about sexually transmitted diseases in school health ed classes than they do about pregnancy prevention,” according to Dr. Philippa Gordon, a pediatrician in Brooklyn, N.Y., who treats many adolescent girls and boys. “They don’t realize how very easy it is for a teenager to become pregnant. Just five to eight acts of unprotected sex would result in pregnancy. A girl can get pregnant even without having intercourse. Our biology is set up to foster it.”

Talking with adults about sex is often embarrassing for teenagers and challenging for their parents, who may leave it up to teachers and doctors to provide the necessary details. Indeed, some may be getting their information surreptitiously from watching pornography. Although schools may recognize the importance of preventing teenage pregnancy, they are often hampered by the mistaken belief that informing youngsters about contraception can encourage them to become sexually active.

However, Dr. David L. Hill tells parents, “Talking to kids about sex and even giving them condoms does not make them have sex any sooner. It does, however, lower the chances you’ll become a grandfather before you’re ready.”

The fact is, with or without sex ed, about half of high school seniors have already become sexually active and need accurate, up-to-date information and access to effective contraception. Furthermore, teenagers who are not adequately informed about pregnancy prevention, or are told only about abstinence, are more likely to become pregnant than those told about birth control options, including emergency contraception, and how to get them. Cost may be a factor.

Many adolescents planning on abstinence do not remain abstinent. As Dr. Hill wrote on the website healthychildren.org, “The best studies of adolescents who take a ‘virginity pledge’ suggest that these kids have sex just as early as those who don’t pledge, but that they are less likely to use birth control when they do have sex.”

Recognizing this, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have urged their members to have “comprehensive” conversations with adolescent patients about their reproductive health and their contraceptive needs, knowledge and concerns.

Dr. Karen Gerancher, author of a recent ACOG opinion article on counseling adolescents about contraception, said, “When we’re able to reach patients before they become sexually active, or early in their sexually active life, we empower them to take control of their reproductive health, and prevent sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies that could permanently impact the future they’ve envisioned for themselves.”

Although many adolescent girls choose birth control pills, as typically used they are not most effective in preventing pregnancy. Here’s what teens should know about contraceptive options, in order of effectiveness.

The implant. This long-acting reversible contraceptive is a matchstick-size flexible plastic rod that a doctor inserts under the skin, usually in the upper arm, where it can prevent pregnancy for at least three years, at which time it should be replaced. It contains a progestin hormone that blocks the release of an egg from the ovary. It is the most effective means of birth control, with a one-year failure rate significantly less than one in 100 (0.05 percent). Fertility typically returns quickly once the implant is removed.

An IUD. This other long-acting reversible contraceptive has a slightly higher failure rate of 0.2 to 0.8 percent. A doctor inserts the small T-shaped device into the uterus, where it prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg. There are two types: the Copper T IUD that has no hormone and needs to be replaced only once in 10 years, and a progestin-containing IUD that is replaced every three to five years.

Progestin injection. This shot of a progestin prevents the release of an egg from the ovaries for three months. Its failure rate is six in 100 within the first year.

Vaginal ring. This hormone-containing ring is placed once a month by the user into her vagina, where it prevents release of an egg for three weeks. It is then removed for one week to permit menstruation. During one year of use, about nine women in 100 will get pregnant with this method.

The patch. The patch contains a hormone that is absorbed through the skin to block release of an egg. It is replaced weekly for three weeks, followed by a week off to allow for menstruation. Like the ring, it has a 9 percent failure rate.

The pill. This too has a 9 percent failure rate within the first year of use. The pill must be taken daily, and inconsistent use is the usual reason it fails. There are two types, but only the one containing two hormones, an estrogen and a progestin, is usually prescribed for teens.

Condom. This is the only method that can prevent sexually transmitted infections and should always be used with any of the other methods. The male condom, a thin sheath that slips over the penis, has a pregnancy rate of 18 percent. The female condom, or vaginal pouch, has a failure rate of 21 percent, comparable to that of withdrawal, which has a 22 percent failure rate.

Emergency contraception. These progestin-containing pills, to be taken within five days (the sooner the better) when contraception is not used or a condom breaks, are available over-the-counter, even for teens.

ACOG recommends that teens keep emergency contraception on hand “just in case” to maximize its effectiveness.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/well/live/contraception-for-teenagers.html

A video of the protesters chasing away a woman from the New York clinic is “probably one of the sharpest examples of protesters interfering in a patient’s ability to enter the clinic.”


[Photo: Anti-abortion activists protest outside D.C. Planned Parenthood].


It was a busy Saturday in September 2012 outside the Choices Women’s Medical Center in Queens, New York. There were a couple staffers by the door and a half-dozen anti-choice protesters gathered on the sidewalk. A patient stepped past the pack of abortion rights foes, heading toward the clinic door, when the protesters blocked her. They surrounded her, forcing her to back up against a parked car and then against the clinic wall.

The patient never made it to the door. She eventually walked away. The anti-choice protesters were seen celebrating her departure, having blocked her access to health-care services.

This was one of several videos played in court last week in hearings for Schneiderman v. Griepp, an anti-harassment federal lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against anti-choice protesters at Choices.

Founded by Merle Hoffman, a well-known women’s rights activist and writer, Choices was one of the first women’s ambulatory health centers in the United States when it opened in 1971, two years before the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion care. Forty-seven years later, the president and CEO of Choices continued to defend a person’s right to choose during her testimony in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.

“The right to choose is a fundamental human and civil right codified by Roe in 1973. Yet as we approach the 40th anniversary of this decision, women in this city have to run a vicious gauntlet through what are called demonstrators and protesters. I call them bullies and the American Taliban,” Hoffman said at a 2012 City Council press conference in New York, according to a video clip that was played Thursday in the courtroom.

Defense attorneys implied she was using the attorney general’s office to bring a lawsuit that would benefit her health-care clinic. Hoffman denied the allegation. She said she has thought about suing the protesters herself but didn’t think she could. “Justice costs money,”she said.

Roger Gannam attacked Hoffman’s choice of words in the 2012 press conference, asking if she sees protesters outside the clinic as terrorists, if she believes they have the right to protest, and whether she believes hyperbole is an appropriate tool in politics. Gannam is an attorney with the Liberty Counsel, a group that has been flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-LGBTQ extremism. He is defending one of the 14 anti-choice protesters named in the suit, Scott Fitchett Jr.

“You see their conduct outside Choices as a terrorist attack, don’t you?” Gannam asked.

“No,” Hoffman said.

Gannam referred to Hoffman’s deposition, which has not been made public, where she reportedly said she sees the protesters’ actions as a terrorist act.

Hoffman replied that, as a writer, she often uses “colorful language” to grab attention. What she meant, she said, was that the anti-choice protesters and the Taliban both share the same “fundamentalist misogyny and hatred” toward women, and that such attitudes have led to attacks on doctors and clinics across the United States.

Gannam referred to an email Hoffman had sent in which she said protesters should be “bridled,” pointing out that she used to ride horses and knows what “bridled” means: to control.

“Restrain, curb and guide,” Hoffman shot back. “What I had in mind was, protesters and bullies have to be controlled, restrained or curbed before they get out of control … at the door, around the patients, and all over the sidewalk.”

Sandra Pullman, assistant attorney general in the state’s Civil Rights Bureau, played video clips from outside the Queens clinic before it developed an official escort program. In one clip, protesters preached loudly at a group of women waiting to get into the clinic before it opened for the day. One of the patients sang loudly and told the protesters to keep quiet and go away. The protesters all continued their activities until the clinic opened and the patients filed in. Kenneth Griepp, the lead defendant and a pastor at the Church at the Rock in Brooklyn, an evangelical Christian congregation that organizes the protests, was heard telling the protesters that they have to be louder next time, “much louder.”

The 2012 video of the protesters chasing away a woman is “probably one of the sharpest examples of protesters interfering in a patient’s ability to enter the clinic,” Mary Lou Greenberg, a longtime activist who runs community outreach and directs the escort program at Choices, said in her testimony Thursday.

Such aggressive anti-choice activity was the reason Choices came up with the escort program on Saturdays, when protester activity peaks each week, she said.

“Protesters would line both sides of the sidewalk with very large signs or aborted fetuses and big words,” she said. “They would step up to patients, buttonhole them, and try to talk to them whether they wanted to hear it or not. It was very upsetting to patients.”

The clinic went from having two or three staffers outside to a robust clinic escort program with 12 to 20 trained volunteers on site every Saturday, wearing identifiable vests to distinguish them from the protesters. At least two escorts meet each patient on the sidewalk and try to whisk them safely into the clinic with minimal disruption despite the presence of the protesters’ graphic signs and offensive chants, said staffers, whom protesters sometimes call “death escorts.”

Pearl Brady, a former clinic escort and escort leader, also described some of the anti-choice protest tactics at Choices last week in her testimony. Brady has maintained detailed records on the protesters and their activities amid a marked uptick in violence against abortion providers and clinics.

The preliminary injunction hearing continues Wednesday.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/02/19/anti-choice-protesters-bullied-buttonholed-abortion-patients-new-york-clinic/

“If we accept a law that bans abortion after 20 weeks, we’re saying that abortions are not okay for women who need more time to pay for them.”



Next week, on Tuesday, the house will vote regarding whether or not to ban abortions at 20 weeks.

The Bill being proposed is called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” That name is derived from a belief that at 20 weeks, fetuses can feel pain. Researchfrom many of the doctors that anti-choice advocates cite do not support that claim. A ban would also be wildly, infuriatingly, unconstitutional.

But the fact that it is unconstitutional and based on faulty science will not matter to a great many people. There are going to be people who say, “well, why can’t women just get abortions before 20 weeks?” The vast majority of them are performed before then. Indeed, 20 states already prohibit abortion after 24 to 28 weeks. But those extra weeks matter.

Amanda* was one of those women who couldn’t get an abortion until around the 20-week mark when she was 22.

“The cost was the major factor. Saving up enough to pay for the abortion took another two months.”

“My one friend who I told was like, ‘why didn’t you take care of this earlier?’” she says, “But you don’t know you’re pregnant that first day! It takes a full missed period or two for you to realize and get to a doctor.”

She explains, “My period was late by a month and [at first] I thought I must have just skipped it because of stress and losing weight.”

When she realized she was pregnant, Planned Parenthood couldn’t see her for three weeks. So, by the time she got to a doctor, her pregnancy was nearing three months. Once she was there, the doctors told her that an abortion costs $800. “At the time, that was an INSANE amount of money,” she replies.

The cost was the major factor. Saving up enough to pay for the abortion took another two months. Putting it on her credit card wasn’t an option. “I was right out of college and the limit on my credit card was literally $500.” She recalls, “I ended up saving by walking everywhere and spending literally nothing on anything.”

For most Americans, especially young ones, it’s easy to picture Amanda’s situation. $800 is an insane amount of money. According to Forbes, as of 2016, 63 percent of Americans don’t have $500 saved to cover an emergency. In March of 2017, CNBCreported that, according to a study by the health care information firm Amnio, more than one-third of Americans said they could not afford an unexpected medical bill for more than $100 without going into debt. Sixty percent claimed receiving a medical bill they could not afford would be as bad or worse than being diagnosed with a serious illness.

Researchers from the University of California–San Francisco found that, “85 percent of women who had difficulty obtaining an abortion reported their reason for not
getting one was the cost.”

Amanda had the abortion. Today, years later, she feels she made the right choice, is thriving and remarks that, “I’m such a different person now, and it’s hard to even picture being so broke.”

“Restricting young women’s options for abortion is to Republican’s advantage—people with college and post-graduate degrees are more likely to vote liberal.”

Many other women won’t get that opportunity, and they’ll suffer for it. Forced birth has been shown to decrease women’s advancement. Studies reported by the Guttmacher Institute state that the “proportion of women who had some formal education beyond high school was 29 percent for those who had children in their teens, 41 percent among those who waited to become mothers until their early 20s and 70 percent for women who waited until their late 20s.” To this end, restricting young women’s options for abortion is to Republican’s advantage—people with college and post-grad degrees are more likely to vote liberal.

Studies by the Guttmacher Institute also remark, rather unsurprisingly that, “Delaying the birth of one’s first child has been widely found to contribute to a family’s strengthened economic stability.”

Additionally, researchers from the UCSF found that,“women who were denied an abortion because they couldn’t afford one and subsequently had a child were more likely to be unemployed, relying on public assistance programs, and living below the federal poverty line than women who obtained an abortion—even when there was no economic difference between the women a year earlier.”

Creating a climate where the women who have the least financial resources are forced to continue unwanted pregnancies give birth ensures that those same women—and, later, their families—are more likely to remain economically disadvantaged throughout their lives. It robs them of their chance at a better, brighter future.

In one way, Amanda was fortunate. She was able to easily access an abortion provider in her state. That is no longer the case for many women in America. In 2008, North Dakota was the only state to have just one abortion provider. In 2017, six states have only one (West Virginia, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Kentucky). Driving across state, and possibly having to stay overnight in a different town, can mean the difference between keeping or losing a job.

“We are saying that rich women are the only ones whose futures matter. The rest? They are just breeding stock.”

Amanda recalls that at the time she was working at a temp agency and, “The temp agency would let you go if you couldn’t be available at a moment’s notice.” Immediately following her abortion, “I just went back to work and just had bad cramps.”

That’s not an option if you’re facing a three-hour drive across state back to your place of work.

If we accept a law that bans abortion after 20 weeks, we’re saying that abortions are okay for women who have the resources to get one immediately. We’re saying they’re not okay for other women, who might need more time to pay for them. We are saying that abortions are for rich women. We are saying that rich women are the only ones who might have dreams and opportunities that could be deterred by having a child. We are saying that rich women are the only ones whose futures matter.

The rest? The rest are just breeding stock.

That is an ugly way to the look at the world, and that is what this law further restricting abortion access will do. Because this isn’t a bill about children or their pain—if the members of the GOP were okay with abortion pre-20 weeks, they wouldn’t have enacted so many restrictions on women obtaining funding for them earlier. This isn’t even a bill about the morality of abortion—if that were the case, the GOP would be looking to outlaw all abortions. This is a bill that is just enacted to ensure that abortions are harder to get for the people who are most vulnerable and who are least able to speak up. But not, of course, to stop any of those reps own daughters from getting an abortion if they need one.

Every woman’s life matters. Every woman’s dreams matter. Every woman’s future matters.

*Amanda asked to have her name changed for professional reasons.

Source: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a12560086/cost-of-abortion-ban-20-weeks/?src=socialflowFBHBZ

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Patients seeking abortions may be misled by Google Maps in many parts of the U.S, according to a Gizmodo investigation.

Pro-life groups offering “abortion alternatives” have been using Google Maps to reach women who plan to terminate a pregnancy by classifying themselves as “women’s health centers” and ranking high for search terms like “abortion clinics near me,” according to Gizmodo.

Google Maps and abortion clinics

In states where clinics that provide abortions are scant or strictly regulated—women in South Dakota, for example, have to wait three days between an ultrasound and an abortion—crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are often more conveniently located.

A high school student recently took on the task of creating a comprehensive map of abortion clinics in the U.S. She noted the difficulty of verifying which clinic actually provided the procedure.

Many of the results in Google Maps describe themselves as “women’s health centers,” and while some of those facilities do perform abortions, many of them are faith-based, pro-life crisis pregnancy centers that do not provide abortions or accurate information about patients’ options.

What are CPCs?

There are many more CPCs across the country than there are abortion clinics—3,000 CPCs versus 800 abortion clinics, according to recent estimates.

They often call themselves “women’s health centers” and advertise with vague phraseslike “Think you are pregnant? Get answers,” or “Considering abortion?”. Many of the CPCs have no medical staff onsite. In some places, staff dress in medical uniforms to meet with patients, despite their lack of medical qualifications.

Using Google Maps to search for abortion clinics led users to CPCs about 79% of the time, according to research from NARAL Pro-Choice, an abortion rights group. The organization stopped Google from selling CPC-related ads in its search results in 2014, saying the ads violated the company’s policy against “misleading, inaccurate, and deceitful ads.”

But in Google Maps, CPCs are often still offered up to users searching for abortion services.

Using Google’s own instructions on how to improve rankings in the map view—like filling out all contact information, engaging with reviewers, and using the Google Business tools—CPCs are showing up in results ahead of actual abortion clinics.

“We’re looking into the issue flagged. We strive for business results that are relevant, accurate and help users find what they’re looking for,” Liz Davidoff, Communications Manager for Google Maps told Fortune in an email statement.

Why it matters

Multiple first-hand accounts and investigations have found that CPCs often give the women who come in for care inaccurate or blatantly false information about their options and the risks associated with abortions.

This means that many pregnant women seeking information, who may be unsure of their next steps, will be served Google Maps results directing them to CPCs that may keep patients from making fully-informed decisions.

While CPCs are mostly funded by the anti-abortion movement, many also receive taxpayer money from state governments.

What’s happening next

Some states have been regulating these centers for years.

In 2014, New York state upheld a law that requires CPCs to inform patients whether or not they have a licensed medical professional on staff.

A CPC-related case will make its way to the Supreme Court this summer in the first case about abortion to be heard by the court under the Trump administration.

The justices will consider an anti-abortion group’s challenge to a California law that requires CPCs to notify patients that the state offers subsidies for contraception and abortions.

A new report from the U.N. showed that the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. increased by 14% between 1990 and 2015. According to Demographic Intelligence and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American women are underserved both in access to contraception and access to fertility resources for prospective mothers.

Source: http://fortune.com/2018/02/15/google-maps-abortion-clinics-crisis-pregnancy-center/?utm_campaign=fortunemagazine&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&xid=soc_socialflow_facebook_FORTUNE