New Bill Seeks to Correct Decision to Omit EC from National Guidelines
The "Best Help for Rape Victims Act" was introduced last week to require the Department of Justice to include emergency contraception (EC) in the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examination. The first-ever national medical guidelines for treating sexual-assault victims omitted EC as an option to prevent unwanted pregnancies, despite the inclusion of such references in earlier versions of the Protocol. The bill, introduced by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chris Shays (R-CT), Diane E. Watson (D-CA) and James R. Langevin (D-RI,) aims to ensure that information about EC will be provided to assault victims to prevent pregnancy. The legislation also aims to make EC available on-site if requested by the victim.
In January, 97 US lawmakers, led by Rep. Maloney, sent a letter to the Department of Justice strongly urging this revision of the new guidelines. Maloney was denied the opportunity to speak at a public hearing in February to call attention to the omission of EC from the national guidelines. According to a press release from Maloney’s office, she was deprived of the right to submit or leave her written testimony at the site, and was additionally threatened to be removed by security.
“We should be doing everything we can to help rape victims recover from sexual attacks, not withholding important health information from them,” said the Congresswoman in a recent press release. “Apparently, the Justice Department has a different set of values." The statement goes on to note that an estimated 25,000 of the 300,000 women who are sexually assaulted each year will become pregnant as a result. Regularly offering EC to rape victims could avert up to 22,000 unplanned pregnancies every year, many of which may otherwise result in abortion. EC is most effective if taken within five days after unprotected sexual intercourse, when a condom breaks, or after a sexual assault, though it is most effective (95 percent) if taken within 24 hours.
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. . . .