Senate Democrats Preserve Preventive Care for Women
Today the US Senate voted down the Blunt Amendment 51 to 48. The Blunt Amendment, which was attached to a transportation bill, would have permitted employers to deny their employees health care coverage based on the employer's "moral" objections. Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, who was standing outside the Senate floor during the vote, celebrated the vote but commented, "It is outrageous that so many senators think it is ok to empower employers to take away health coverage from workers, especially women."
Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) was the only Republican who voted to kill the Blunt Amendment by tabling it as three Democrats, Senators Robert Casey (PA), Joe Manchin (WV) and Ben Nelson (NE) voted with the Republicans to bring the Amendment to the floor for a vote.
The amendment introduced by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) in response to the Obama Administration's ruling that employer insurance plans must cover FDA approved birth control with no co-pays or deductibles starting August 2012. Employers at religious institutions such as hospitals and universities could elect not to cover contraception but private insurance providers would be required to cover it at no additional cost. Houses of worship would be exempt from the requirement.
The Blunt Amendment would have allowed employers to withhold coverage not only for contraception but other health care such as annual well-woman visits and cancer screenings, counseling, such as for domestic and interpersonal violence, and testing for HIV and STIs, breastfeeding support, and lactation services and supplies.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said of today's vote, "it's just the latest ploy in the Republican agenda of disrespecting the health of American women. I thank my colleagues in the Senate who are working to strengthen women's health, rather than diminish it, by tabling this extreme legislation."
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .