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Ask an American woman in her 20s or 30s to define an IUD, and she might tell you about a roadside bomb instead of one of the oldest forms of FDA-approved contraception. In the late 1970s, this form of reversible contraception was used by nearly 10 percent of U.S. women on birth control. But today, […]

via Why more young women should start using IUDs. — Keep Women Healthy


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Today marks the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision, a landmark reproductive rights case which pro-choice advocates believe reaffirmed women’s rights to a safe and legal abortion. But instead of being in a celebratory mood, we have to admit that the possibility of losing our abortion rights in the Trump era is looking higher and higher.
Anti-choice politicians across the country are passing laws restricting abortion left and right, with little regard for women’s autonomy. And so-called “pro-life” advocates sure aren’t backing down, employing new strategies that include a softer lens on their beliefs and a batch of fresh millennial faces.
If the abortion apocalypse is nigh, what can we do to stop it? Well, there’s plenty: You can make donations and volunteer with pro-choice organizations; you can go out and protest; and you can cast your vote for pro-choice politicians the next time a local or national election comes around.
But there’s also a small action you can take every day to remind lawmakers that women’s rights are human rights: contact your representatives.
Ahead, we break down exactly how to do that and list the elected officials you should be calling. The time to fight for our reproductive rights is now.

First, find your representatives and their contact info

If you don’t know your elected officials at the state level, this is the time to find out. Go to this guide, which will direct you to your state assembly or legislature’s website. From there, you can navigate the page to identify your representatives. And if you want the contact information for your governor, check this website.
To find out who represents you in Congress, you can input your zip code below.
You can also go to the House and Senate’s official websites to input your zip code or state and find out who represents you. Once you have the names of your elected officials, you can find their contact information in this House directory and this Senate directory.
If for some reason you lose their numbers, make sure to remember two crucial things: Their names and this phone number, 202-224-3121. That line will direct you to the Capitol’s switchboard. Once you speak with an operator, you can ask them to connect you with the office of your representative.

Time to pick up the phone

Look, we know there are plenty of alternatives to contact your representatives. You can always send them an email, a tweet, or even an old-school letter. But the truth is that they respond better to pressure from phone calls; it’s a quicker way to tally up support, and it’s the most difficult to ignore. Plain and simple, they can overlook the build-up of tweets, emails, and letters, but they can’t ignore a barrage of phones ringing without losing their mind a little bit.
It’s very likely that a legislative assistant will be the one to answer the phone. They’ll ask you whether you need a response, but it’s better to say you don’t. It will save everyone time, because they won’t need to add you to a response database.
Make sure you’re clear about what issue you’re calling about. The reasons why you support or oppose certain topics are, frankly, irrelevant. Getting straight to the point makes things better for everyone involved, including those who are waiting in line for their calls to be picked up.

So, what do I say?

My dear friend, we’re here to make your life much easier. Below, we have two scripts you can modify and follow.
First, let’s say you’re in a place like Missouri, where the state House passed sweeping legislation restricting abortion access. The Senate is currently working on the bill’s revisions, so this is the perfect time to call. Here’s what you could say:
“Hello, my name is Mary Williams. I’m a constituent from St. Louis County, zip code 63001. I don’t need a response. I am opposed to the Senate Bill 5 and I strongly encourage the senator to please oppose this devastating bill. Thank you!”
If you’re calling Congress, you can follow a similar guide. For example, if you’re opposed to the Senate’s current healthcare bill, which withholds funds from Planned Parenthood and tax credits from insurance plans which cover abortion, here’s something you could say:
“Hello, my name is Jane Smith. I’m a constituent from New York, zip code 10001. I don’t need a response. I am opposed to the Better Care Reconciliation Act and the defunding of Planned Parenthood. I strongly encourage the senator to please vote ‘no’ on this bill. Thank you!”
You can modify these scripts when calling everyone from your mayor to your senators about any issue.

Who should I prioritize?

Congress can do plenty to restrict abortion access, especially now that the Republican Party controls both chambers, but the reality is that the real damage is being done at the state level. As long as Roe v. Wade is in place, anti-choice state lawmakers can keep pushing restrictions and trying to regulate abortion before the point of fetal viability.
Bills that could either help or hurt abortion access are being discussed in the following states at the moment: Missouri, Rhode Island, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. If you live there, you should call your state representatives. For a complete database of pending abortion legislation, click here.
And if you oppose the Senate healthcare bill, there are certain GOP senators you should prioritize, as they’re on the fence about the legislation. If you live in their state, call: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Dean Heller (Nev.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Rand Paul (Ky). But if your representative isn’t listed, it doesn’t hurt to call your senators and tell them to oppose the bill.
Whether you contact your elected officials about local abortion laws or national legislation, it’s important to remind them there’s plenty of data proving most Americans support abortion access in some capacity. It’s time to get with the times and let women decide what’s best for them, full stop.

Move’s proponents argued decision is a medical one, not criminal – but opponents said decriminalisation may put vulnerable women at risk


abortion-protesters.jpgProtesters march in support of legal abortion in Northern Ireland, and against a Tory coalition with the DUP, earlier this month Reuters

Abortion should be decriminalised, medics at the British Medical Association (BMA) have said.

Delegates at the BMA’s annual meeting in Bournemouth voted in favour of a motion calling for a change in the law.

This means the BMA will adopt this stance as formal policy and lobby ministers for a change in legislation.

At present the law permits abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. But if there is a substantial risk to the woman’s life or foetal abnormalities, there is no time limit.

Two doctors must ensure that the requirements of the Abortion Act are met before an abortion can take place.

The topic received heated debate among the 500 medics at the meeting.

Some medics said that abortion is a medical decision and not a criminal one. They said a change in policy supports the rights of women.

But others raised concerns about decriminalisation putting vulnerable women at risk, sex-selective abortion and professional regulation.

Dr John Chisholm, chairman of the BMA’s medical ethic s committee, said that the motion was not about time limits, saying that the BMA supports current time limits on abortion.

The BMA said criminal sanctions for abortion should be abandoned but it should be regulated in the same way as other health procedures.

One delegate, Sarah Johnson, questioned whether it would be regulated in the same way as hip replacement or lip fillers – a cosmetic procedure not subject to stringent medical regulation.

 The BMA said limits could still be set, but subject to professional and regulatory sanctions.

Other criminal laws which apply to other aspects of care would continue to apply to abortion – for instance supplying abortion drugs without a prescription would be a criminal offence under the UK-wide Human Medicines Regulation 2012.

Dr Chisholm added: “Abortion is currently a crime, with exceptions, throughout the UK. Following the debate the majority of doctors were clear that abortion should be treated as a medical issue rather than a criminal one.

“What must be clear is that decriminalisation does not mean deregulation. The debate today and the BMA’s new policy only relate to whether abortion should or should not be a criminal offence; the policy does not address the broader issue of when and how abortion should be available.¸

Speaking after the debate, Dr Clare Gerada, former chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs who is also a trustee of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas), said: “Abortion is never an easy thing to do for any woman or for any man. But for abortion to be governed by criminal law rather than governed by healthcare regulation is nonsense.

“I think this is as powerful and as important as the 1967 Abortion Act. This will start now putting abortion where it really should be, which is regulated by healthcare and then improving women’s access to it, improving contraception and removing sanctions for women who might or might not buy their medicines online.

“BMA doesn’t make law but the BMA is a very powerful voice for doctors and it’s a very powerful voice for people of this country.

“And to be able to say that the BMA fully supports the decriminalisation of abortion I think is a very, very, very powerful voice to have.

“For the BMA to be coming out absolutely overwhelmingly for the decriminalisation of abortion, I think now politicians will have to stand up and listen and actually take action.”

She said she suspects that following the vote there would be a Private Member’s Bill put to the House of Commons.

In March, a Bill was introduced at the Commons calling for abortion to be decriminalised up to 24 weeks.

Former shadow health minister Diana Johnson introduced the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill in a bid to get rid of “Victorian” abortion laws which contain criminal sanctions for both women and doctors if they do not meet certain requirements.

The Bill, which called to remove criminal sanctions in England and Wales and place regulation with professional bodies, received its first reading in March.

After gaining traction among MPs, it was scheduled for a second reading in May but Parliament was dissolved ahead of the General Election so the Bill fell.

Last year the Royal College of Midwives came out in favour of abortion being removed from criminal law.

“By gutting Medicaid, repealing significant insurance protections, defunding Planned Parenthood, and expanding harmful abortion coverage restrictions, it would devastate women and families,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have proposed an alternative to the Affordable Care Act that they claim would result in “better care”—the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act.

But their plan would result in 22 million more people uninsured than under Obamacare over ten years, starting with 15 million people without coverage by next year, according to a hotly anticipated Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scoreout Monday afternoon. In their bill, Senate Republicans doubled down on anti-choice provisions that will prevent Medicaid patients from accessing potentially life-saving care at Planned Parenthood affiliates, including cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection testing, and contraceptive services. And people with private insurance will face abortion restrictions that their counterparts on Medicaid have long experienced under the discriminatory Hyde Amendment.

The consequences of the Senate bill mirror those of the U.S. House of Representatives’ American Health Care Act, which would leave 23 million more people than under Obamacare uninsured over the same ten-year period.
CBO determined that just like the House version, the Senate’s bill “defunds” Planned Parenthood, and only Planned Parenthood, at the expense of poor and rural people who disproportionately rely on the health-care organization. That finding could provide more justification for the Senate parliamentarian, the arbiter of the chamber’s rules and procedures, to rule that targeting Planned Parenthood alone represents a partisan vendetta and violates the fast-track process Republicans are using to pass repeal with only a simple majority.

As the report notes:

To the extent that access to care would be reduced under this legislation, services that help women avoid becoming pregnant would be affected. The people most likely to experience reduced access to care would probably reside in areas without other health care clinics or medical practitioners who serve low-income populations. CBO projects that about 15 percent of those people would lose access to care.

Beyond reproductive health care, the ability of Medicaid patients to access any health-care services in general will suffer. The largest portion of the Senate bill’s $320.9 billion in savings over ten years would come from cuts to the joint federal and state program for people with low incomes; in fact, spending for Medicaid would decrease by $772 billion in that period. This represents a 26 percent decrease from under Obamacare. The House bill, by comparison, saves $119 billion—again, through Medicaid cuts that limit access to life-saving care.

CBO’s score of the “heartless” Senate repeal effort “offers no surprises,” Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, said in a statement.

“By gutting Medicaid, repealing significant insurance protections, defunding Planned Parenthood, and expanding harmful abortion coverage restrictions, it would devastate women and families,” Ness continued.

Advocating for access to safe abortions, Willie Parker decided to attack the root of the problem.

Willie ParkerBrynn Anderson / AP
Willie Parker became a Christian at age 15. Well into his career as an obstetrician-gynecologist, he refused, on religious grounds, to perform abortions.

Over the years, he saw more and more patients who were victims of sexual assault and intimate-partner violence. He was forced to confront his idea of what it meant to “be a man.” Parker eventually started performing abortions—largely in the southern United States—and he is now an outspoken advocate for access to safe abortions. In his new book, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, Parker traces his anti-abortion-access stance to Biblical literalism and obliviousness to societal power structures. Over decades, as he realized that health equity required dismantling of the patriarchy, he worked to understand how he could be effective in that as a man.

Christianity is still a major part of Parker’s identity. When we met, it was one of four self-identifiers he listed on four fingers: Christian, heterosexual, black, and male. Though he isn’t the first person to attempt patriarchal dismantling, he would be among the few who match these identifiers. Parker is broad-shouldered and bearded and deep-voiced. His physical presentation makes no departure from gender norms. Parker does not challenge that gender is rooted in biology, and he doesn’t renounce masculinity. His mission is to reform it into something productive, or at least not oppressive, from within.

During the Spotlight Health conference in Aspen on Friday—part of the Aspen Ideas Festival—Parker was invited to pose a “big idea” to everyone in attendance. It was big: “divesting of what I feel to be the cornerstone of most structural oppression in the world.”

Parker argued that dismantling patriarchy would “cause many injustices to crumble: racial and ethnic tension, class wars, sexual identity oppression, Islamophobia. Imagine if men could see reproductive justice as their battle to fight—not from a place of chivalry, but from a duty to humanity.”

He also told the story of how he met his hero Gloria Steinem a year and a half ago, and she gave him a bracelet. It was inscribed, “Imagine if we were all linked, and not ranked.” That has become his personal mantra. The audience was into this, and even more into his culminating challenge: “I will continue to divest of the patriarchy, and I call upon all patriarchs—both male and female—to join me. Then and only then can we be linked and not ranked. Imagine that.”

I wanted to know more about how a person might divest, in practical terms. So we talked the next afternoon. A condensed version of our conversation follows, lightly edited for clarity.

James Hamblin: If I’m aware of problems with conceptions of masculinity and want to not be part of the problem, what do I do?

Willie Parker: The first thing is to become responsible. Acknowledge that life chances in this country aren’t uniformly equal, and that there is such a thing as privilege. There’s such a thing as male privilege, and that is institutionalized as patriarchy. That’s heavily influenced by religion, and it influences government, and business, and everything else.

So the first step is to recognize that we live in a patriarchal world. You’re born into that from the very moment that the birth attendant says “It’s a boy.”

Once you realize that, you have to recognize, okay, what about that feels right or wrong to you? If you start with the premise that we’re all humans, then you start to question, what are the real differences between men and women? There are certainly biological differences, but that doesn’t mean there should be differences in people’s access to opportunity.

So when you get all of that, then you have to figure out what is my role?

That requires you to be self-aware. In what ways am I privileged? A racial system in a society that values white privilege puts me at a disadvantage. But being male in a patriarchal society puts me at an advantage. And in both cases, I conclude that isn’t fair. Privilege—in ways that you haven’t worked for—isn’t fair.

Hamblin: So then the only moral option is to divest of that privilege? And this doesn’t just mean saying I value all people equally and wearing a t-shirt that says “Male Feminist.”

Parker: Even if you’re at that point, there are still probably biases you’re not seeing. Do you balk at taking directions from female bosses more than male bosses? Think back. Or if they’re gay when you’re straight? They’re black and you’re white?  If so, then you’ve got to work harder to recognize and divest of that sense—any sense that’s still somewhere in there, of “I should be the boss because I’m white, and I’m male, and I’m straight.”

Apply that lens, to every aspect of your life. Do you perceive assertiveness by female colleagues as “bitchiness” versus, “Wow, Rob’s a go-getter”?

Everybody has the power to divest of the privilege that they hold. It’s like holding a stock. And that stock rises in value, and the stock certificate is in your name just for being born with a certain skin color or of a certain gender. The benefits accrue the same way.

Hamblin: So I give that stock away? Is that possible?

Parker: All analogies break down at some point. If you decide that the way you acquired the stock was at the expense of someone else, you don’t have to take a vow of poverty, but you have to accept the responsibility that comes with that wealth. If you hold a lot of power, it’s incumbent on you to work for a society that’s more equitable.

We live in a rape culture, meaning there are ways in which society facilitates men being able to rape. I personally do not rape people, and I don’t make sexist remarks. But that’s not enough. I have to actively be anti-rape, anti-sexism and work to dismantle these structures. If we each individually divest of the privilege we’re born into, then we can be in a position to demand that the world becomes fair, and to make it so.

That evening I went to Parker’s book-reading event in town. There were about 30 people there. Five were men, including Parker and me. One in the audience asked a question, a very long question which turned out to be a statement about how he’s against access to abortion, and how now-a-days a lot of women and minorities have impressive jobs, and so he doesn’t really see the big problem.

AUSTIN, Tex. — She was a state senator Tuesday morning. By Wednesday, she was a political celebrity known across the nation. But also hoarse, hungry and thirsty.

The leg-numbing filibuster by Wendy Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat — in which she stood and talked for more than 11 hours at the Capitol here, never sitting, eating, drinking or even using the bathroom to help block passage of an anti-abortion bill supported by the state’s top Republicans — was not the longest such marathon, by Texas standards.

But it didn’t matter.

Her feat of stamina and conviction gained thousands of Twitter followers in a matter of hours. Pictures of the sneakers she wore beneath her dress zoomed across computer and television screens. The press corps demanded to know her shoe brand. (Mizuno, it turned out.) Hundreds of men, women and children waited for hours at the Capitol to sit in an upstairs gallery and watch her in action, standing in lines that snaked around the rotunda. Even President Obama noticed, posting a Twitter message on Tuesday that read, “Something special is happening in Austin tonight.”

Ms. Davis, 50, has known long odds and, for Democrats, was the perfect symbol in a fight over what a woman can do. She was a teenager when her first child was born, but managed as a single mother to pull herself from a trailer park to Harvard Law School to a hard-fought seat in the Texas Senate, a rare liberal representing conservative Tarrant County. According to Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston, she had the second-most liberal voting record in the Senate in 2011.


State Senator Wendy Davis of Texas, was flanked by her father, left, and her two daughters while giving her victory speech on Nov. 6. Senator Davis, a Democrat, was first elected in 2008. CreditRobert W. Hart for The Texas Tribune

“We have a State Capitol that is made up of people, for the most part, who are elected by Anglo communities, suburban and rural, and they are the majority voice in the Capitol, although they aren’t reflective of the majority of the state of Texas,” she said in a previous interview.

I would like to thank Wendy for showing the country what a true Texan woman looks like. She stood up for her beliefs and didn’t back down. …

On Tuesday night, as she stood in her salmon-colored running shoes on the green carpeted floor of the Senate chamber and spoke about the bill from 11:18 a.m. to about 10 p.m., Republicans monitored virtually her every move and word, waiting to catch her violating Texas’ obscure filibuster rules, which prohibited her from leaning on her desk or straying off topic. At one point they objected when a fellow Democrat tried to help put a back brace around Ms. Davis, who at that point had been standing for about seven hours straight.

“I’m tired, but really happy,” Ms. Davis told reporters in the Senate chamber at 3:20 a.m. Wednesday as she finally made her way out of the building. “I’m pleased to know that a spotlight is shining on Texas, a spotlight is shining on the failure of our current leadership.” She was congratulated by lawmakers and women’s rights advocates. But the celebration was short-lived. Hours later, Gov. Rick Perry announced that a second special session would begin Monday so lawmakers could take up the abortion bill once more. Analysts said the bill would probably pass this time because Democrats in the Republican-controlled Senate would be unable to delay for an entire 30-day session.

As a lawmaker elected to the Senate in 2008, Ms. Davis has shown charisma and guts, and her life story has moved voters. At the age of 14, she worked after-school jobs to help support her mother and three siblings.


State Senator Wendy Davis at her Harvard Law School graduation in 1993, with her daughter, Amber. CreditDavis Family

“My mother only had a sixth-grade education, and it was really a struggle for us,” she said in a 2011 video for Generation TX. She said she fell through the cracks in high school, and shortly after she graduated, she got married and divorced, and was a single mother by age 19.

“I was living in a mobile home in southeast Fort Worth, and I was destined to live the life that I watched my mother live,” she said in the video. A co-worker showed her a brochure for Tarrant County College, and she took classes to become a paralegal, working two jobs at the same time. From there she received a scholarship to attend Texas Christian University in Fort Worth — becoming the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree — and then went on to Harvard. “When I was accepted into Harvard Law School, I remember thinking about who I am, and where I came from, and where I had been only a few years before,” she said.

These days, she said, her life outside the Capitol is nice and boring — she has two daughters, ages 24 and 30, and tries to run regularly. She has been dating a former mayor of Austin, Will Wynn, who put his arm around her shoulder early Wednesday as they walked out of the Senate chamber together.

It was an exhausting filibuster, but it did not break the record. The longest filibuster in American history took place 36 years earlier in the same place when Senator Bill Meier filibustered a bill for 43 hours in 1977.


Ms. Davis in elementary school in the 1970s.  CreditDavis Family

Ms. Davis pushed her Republican rivals to make an embarrassing and rare public reversal. Their attempts to derail her filibuster as the midnight deadline neared caused the gallery to erupt in screams, throwing the results of the vote on the bill into disarray. Hours after saying that they had passed the bill, Republican leaders reversed course and said the vote did not follow legislative procedures, rendering the vote moot and killing the bill.

It was Ms. Davis’s second star turn: In 2011, she filibustered a budget bill that included huge cuts to public education, forcing Governor Perry to call a special session in order for it to pass. And it cemented her reputation as a Democrat in a Republican-dominated state who many hope will run for statewide office.

“She’s carrying every woman in the state of Texas, if you will, on her shoulders,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a daughter of Ann Richards, a former governor.

The bill seeks to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as hospital-style surgical centers and mandate that a doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Opponents say it could lead to the closing of most of Texas’s 42 abortion clinics.

Rocking back and forth in her sneakers — to ease the pain in her lower back, she said — Ms. Davis read from letters sent to her office, testimony submitted to committees and an article published in The Austin Chronicle. At 10 p.m., the Senate’s presiding officer, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, sustained a violation for straying off the topic, which Democrats disputed. She had been talking about a law that prohibited abortions without the mother first undergoing a sonogram.

As the clock neared midnight, Republicans tried to end the debate and to vote, causing the crowd to erupt. At midnight, another senator stood at Ms. Davis’s paper-cluttered desk and raised her arm in victory. The crowd roared. Ms. Davis smiled. It was not until about 1 a.m. — about 14 hours after she first rose at 11:18 a.m. — that she quickly walked to the Senate lounge and, for the first time, sat down.