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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Christian Fundamentalists Campaign Against Contraceptives

Please note : You'll find reports on the religious right's efforts to block access to Plan B, the "morning-after" emergency contraceptive, in the section on Plan B and the section on pharmacist refusal.

Rift grows over unintended pregnancies

By David Crary, Associated Press, FoxNews.com, June 7, 2007

NEW YORK -- America's conflicted attitude toward sex is at the heart of an intriguing political struggle unfolding this year in Congress and many states, as liberals and conservatives spar over bills aimed at reducing the huge number of unintended pregnancies.

To the liberal coalition backing the measures, the so-called Prevention First initiative is a commonsense package that would reduce the need for abortions by providing better information about contraceptives and expanding access to them.

To conservatives, the initiative is an alarming effort to eliminate abstinence-only sex education, strengthen abortion-rights groups and encourage sex outside of marriage.

"There's a utopian view that women ought to be able to have sex any time they want to without consequences - that's the bottom line of all these bills," said Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America, a conservative group which opposes the measures. Continue.

Planned Parenthood Applauds House and Senate Introduction of ABC Act
Bill Would Guarantee Access to Birth Control and Stop Pharmacy Refusals

News Release, Planned Parenthood via Common Dreams, June 6, 2007

Washington - June 6 - Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today applauded Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Chris Shays (R-CT) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) for introducing the "Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act."

The act addresses the growing and troubling trend of pharmacy refusals, protecting women's access to birth control at pharmacies and guaranteeing they will receive prescriptions and over-the-counter products in-store, without discrimination or delay. PPFA, the nation's largest provider of emergency contraception (EC), applauded the ruling: "Emergency contraception and other forms of birth control are basic health care for women.

It is 2007 - any woman should be able to walk into any pharmacy, anywhere in the country, and get birth control, including emergency contraception, without discrimination or delay," said PPFA President Cecile Richards. Continue.

Wal-Mart Takes Step to End Discriminatory Policy; Will Now Include Birth Control in Insurance Plan
As nation's largest retailer acquiesces to public pressure, 24 states still do not require this coverage

News release, NARAL Pro-Choice America, January 22, 2007, via Common Dreams

WASHINGTON - January 22 - Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called Wal-Mart's decision to include birth control in its basic health insurance coverage plan for the first time a step forward for women's health and reproductive freedom. Continue.

Contra-Contraception

By Russell Shorto, New York Times Magazine, May 7, 2006

This important report provides a detailed account of how, as it has gathered force, the religious right has been quietly moving against contraception -- in many cases with the explicit goal of limiting sex to procreation within marriage. At the moment, the fight appears focused on the emergency contraceptive, Plan B. But, according to the article, some "pro-life" activists are also taking aim at condoms, IUDs and oral contraceptives. Click here for the report

The Movement Against Health Insurance
Benefit Mandates: Assessing the Dangers

By Adam Sonfield, Guttmacher Policy Review, Spring 2006

America is facing a problem of ever-rising health care costs, consuming an ever larger portion of familiesí income and the gross domestic product. These costs have contributed to another problem, the growing number of uninsured Americans. With conservative policymakers setting the agenda in the White House and in Congress, their proposed solutions have taken center stage. At their core is a simple idea: If you give people access to less expensive insurance, more people will be able to afford coverage.

There is, however, a hitch: Lower-cost insurance almost inevitably means less-comprehensive coverage. Indeed, one key way that conservatives hope to achieve lower-cost insurance is by rolling back policies that require health insurance plans to include coverage of specific services. Womenís health advocates worry that without these policies, widely known as benefit mandates, contraceptive and other reproductive health services may be restricted. Continue to the Policy Review, in PDF format

New Federal Authority to Impose Medicaid
Family Planning Cuts: A Deal States Should Refuse

By Rachel Benson Gold, Guttmacher Policy Review, Spring 2006

The joint federal-state Medicaid program has long been of central importance to low-income womenís health care in general and to the provision of subsidized family planning services in particular. Since 1972, family planning has been one of a handful of services the federal government has required all state Medicaid programs to cover, and it is one of the very few services for which patient costsharing is prohibited. According to the most recent data available, nearly 12% of all women of reproductive age rely on Medicaid for their health care, and the program provides just over six in 10 public dollars spent on family planning across the country (see table).

However, a recently enacted federal law giving states significant new latitude to reshape their Medicaid programs could change all that. For the first time in more than three decades, states have the authority to exclude family planning from the package of benefits offered to some groups of enrollees under the program. Click for the report, in PDF format.

Fear Of The Pill

By Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D NY), TomPaine.common sense, December 15, 2005

"In the face of an alarming movement across the country to prevent women from getting birth control, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has been repeatedly asked at press briefings if the president is opposed to contraception. In response, McClellan has been evasive, ambiguous and unable to give a straight answer." Click here to read Rep. Maloney's statement.

For more information on the Bush administration's position on contraception, please click here.

N.Y. Court Rejects Employers' Challenge to Contraception Law

By John Caher, New York Law Journal via Law.com, January 13, 2006

"By a 3-2 margin, the Appellate Division, 3rd Department, rejected myriad constitutional challenges by Catholic and Baptist organizations, and upheld the law requiring employers that provide prescription insurance coverage to their workers to cover contraceptives." Click here for the report.

Important study links family planning, abortion rate

Guttmacher Institute study shows how access to contraceptives affects abortion rate

By JewsOnFirst , March 7, 2006

The same week that South Dakota's extreme anti-abortion bill hung between the state legislature and the governor's pen, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which specializes in reproductive health issues, released a massive study showing that abortion rates rise and fall in synch with the availability of family planning services -- especially where poor women and girls are concerned. Click here for our summary, links to the Guttmacher report and news coverage.

UPDATE:
Unplanned Pregnancy Increases among Poor

by Marc Kaufman, San Francisco Chronicle, May 5, 2006, via Common Dreams

WASHINGTON - Poor women are getting pregnant unintentionally at considerably higher rates now than in the mid-1990s, and they are giving birth to many more unplanned children and having more abortions.

In contrast, the rate of unplanned pregnancies and resulting abortions for more affluent women declined substantially during the same eight-year period, according to a new study by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute who analyzed federal data. Continue

Critics Suggest Guttmacher's Pro-Abortion Report Ignores Negative Evidence
Consider the Source, Say Pro-Life Leaders

Bill Fancher and Jody Brown, Agape Press, May 4, 2006

Concerned Women of America (CWA) greeted the May 4, 2006 Guttmacher Institute's study, "Abortion in Women's Lives" with absolute skepticism and scorn. Click here

Wisconsin Republicans' bill would deny reproductive health services to girls 15-18

Age limits of contraceptive program may be raised

By Stacy Forster, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 14, 2006

Republican Senator Glenn Grothman, pictured here, wants to raise from 15 to 18 the eligible age of a reproductive health program that serves thousands of women so that girls 15-17 cannot get contraceptives without their parents knowledge. Grothman and his religious right supporters say the program encourages teens to become sexually active and raising the age would reestablish parental rights.

Opponents of Grothman's bill, which had a hearing on February 14th, say raising the age could jeopardize the program's federal funding. Moreover, they argue that the program reduces teen pregnancy and provides healthcare services to thousands of teenagers who might not otherwise have access to them. Click here to read the report.

Impact of teen contraception bill called big
Critics say it could gut larger program

By Judith Davidoff, The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin), February 14, 2006

"The program offers women between age 15 and 44 several free health services, including Pap tests (which identify changes in cells taken from the cervix that may indicate actual or potential cancer), screening for sexually transmitted diseases and cancer, contraception and routine preventative primary care services...

State officials deem the program, which as of December was serving about 55,000 women, a resounding success. In the first year alone, the state determined the program saved $3.3 million in Medicaid expenses, based on the estimated number of averted births in that year. Evaluators also found that approximately one-third of the women in the program were getting contraceptive care for the first time. Nearly half of the enrollees are teens ages 15 to 19."

In this report, bill sponsor Sen. Glenn Grothman is quoted saying that providing birth control to teens is "a war on Christianity." Click here to read the report.

Click here to read Sen. Grothman's bill.

Anti-Birth Control Senator Grothman Attacks Family Planning Programs
Vocal opponent of birth control again attacking Wisconsinís most successful family planning program

News Release, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, January 19, 2006

"Madison, WI- Access to birth control in Wisconsin is yet again under attack by extremist anti-birth control crusader Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend). Yesterday, Senator Grothman announced his plans to introduce a bill in the state Legislature that would gut the Medicaid Family Planning Waiver program. State officials have called the program one of the most cost-effective options for reducing skyrocketing Medicaid costs because the program saves $13.2 million in state funds and attracts an additional $8.2 million in federal monies each year.

"In 2005, over 224,000 Wisconsin women were in need of publicly funded contraceptive services. The Family Planning Waiver has served over 64,000 of those women. The program offers family planning services to low-income women ages 15 to 44, including cervical cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment and contraceptive counseling." Click here for the news release.

Wisconsin Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Birth Control for Minors

By Susan Jones, CNSNews.com, February 14, 2006

"On this Valentine's Day, a group of Wisconsin parents is telling the state not to fund birth control for their children. Parents from across Wisconsin are gathering in the State Capitol Tuesday to voice their support for legislation that would make 15-, 16- and 17-year-old girls ineligible to receive free, taxpayer-funded birth control, Pro-Life Wisconsin said." Click here for the article.

Religious right's opposition to HPV vaccine

Hillary Clinton's Selective Science on HPV

By Tony Perkins, Tony Perkins' Washington Update from the Family Research Council, November 21, 2005

The leader of this religious right powerhouse strays immediately from the topic of a vaccine to prevent HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, to criticize Clinton and other liberals for their opposition to warning labels on condoms. Click here to read the screed.

Religious right's propaganda on contraceptive "failure"

Condom Labels and Left-Wing Lies
Politics gets in the way of medical accuracy

By Linda Klepachi, Focus on the Family, November 16, 2005

A fulmination on the purported "failures" of condoms, backing labeling them and criticizing the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood and SEICUS for opposing warning labels. Click here to read the article.

Religious right advocacy against contraception

When Bigger is Better
The Right Frame of Mind

Rev. Mark H. Creech, Agape Press, February 6, 2006

Rev. Mark H. Creech is an advocate for larger Christian families that eschew the use of birth control. He writes: "I do not mean to contend every family ought to have as many children as the Chernenkos [the heroes of this article who have 17 children.] There are some exceptions, when non-abortifacient contraceptives or natural family planning might be warranted. It is my purpose, however, to convey how far we've fallen. The prevailing practice of contraception today, which has throughout history grown out of the most-wicked of sources, is in no way consistent with Christian history, teaching, or practice. It has resulted in a culture of death that treats children like a disease, undermined the family and our national character, and in part, helped produce the welfare state. It has caused us to consider families like the Chernenkos as something freakish, rather than something glorious!" Click here to read the commentary.

A Hard Pill to Swallow. How the tiny tablet upset my soul.

By Agnieszka Tennant, Christianity Today, November 8, 2005

Columnist Tennant retraces the thoughts and readings that brought her to stop taking birth control pills because of the concern, dismissed by doctors, but apparently now being propagated on the religious right, that the pill might, on rare occasions, permit ovulation. Click here to read the column.