National Partnership for Women & Families

Research Library: Abortion

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On the Road to Recovery: Reproductive Health Legislative, Regulatory and Political Highlights of 2008

In 2008, virtually all reproductive health debates and decisions in the legislative and policy arenas took place against the backdrop of one of the most unforgettable presidential campaigns in history – one in which voters could not have been presented with a starker choice between candidates on reproductive health policy. When the dust had settled, the country had elected a pro-choice, pro-prevention President with a strong track record of support for women’s reproductive health.


Final HHS Regulation

Several provisions of federal law prohibit recipients of certain federal funds from coercing individuals in the health care field into participating in actions they find religiously or morally objectionable. These same provisions also prohibit discrimination on the basis of one’s objection to, participation in, or refusal to participate in, specific medical procedures, including abortion or sterilization.


Letter: Representative Crowley (D-NY) Urges President-Elect Obama to Restore Affordable Access to Birth Control

Congratulations on your historic election. Difficult times are ahead for our nation, but I stand ready to work with you to find common-sense solutions to revitalize our economy, create good-paying jobs, and make health care more affordable and accessible. That is why I hope we can continue working together to restore women's access to affordable birth control.


The November 2008 Election and Reproductive Health Issues

The November 4 election will usher in a decidedly more pro-choice and pro-family planning environment than any in recent memory. Buoyed by the election of a pro-choice President and by a significant influx of Members of Congress who are friendly to reproductive health issues, we have high hopes that the anti-reproductive rights legacy of the past eight years can start to be reversed and that issues that advance a pro-active reproductive health agenda will take their rightful place at the top of the presidential and legislative agendas.


Comments submitted by the National Partnership for Women & Families

The National Partnership for Women & Families (National Partnership) submits these comments in strong opposition to the proposed rule published on August 26, 2008 by the Department of Health and Human Services (hereinafter referenced as proposed rule or proposal). We believe the proposed rule is an ill-conceived, unnecessary, and counter-productive attempt to expand the reach of specific refusal statutes that permit institutions or individuals to deny health services for religious or moral reasons.


Comment letter submitted from Members of the U.S. House of Representative Members

We are writing to strongly object to a rule proposed on August 26, 2008 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that will significantly undermine patients' access to vital health services and information. The ill-conceived and unnecessary proposed rule puts politics and ideology before quality health care. It would expand the ability of health care providers to withhold treatment, counseling, or medical information based on their religious or moral beliefs without regard for the needs of the patient.


Comment letter submitted from Members of the U.S. Senate

We are writing to strongly object to a rule proposed on August 26, 2008 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that will significantly undermine patients' access to vital health services and information. The ill-conceived and unnecessary proposed rule puts politics and ideology before quality health care. It would expand the ability of health care providers to withhold treatment, counseling, or medical information based on their religious or moral beliefs without regard for the needs of the patient.


Comment letter submitted from 13 State Attorneys General

The proposed regulation is vague, lacking in clear definition as to the health care procedures that may be withheld on moral or religious grounds. It completely obliterates the rights of patients to legal and medically necessary health care services in favor of a single-minded focus on protecting a health care provider's right to claim a personal moral or religious belief.


Comment letter submitted from Medical Groups

As physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals, we, the undersigned, urge the Department of Health and Human Services to rescind the “Proposed Rule Ensuring that Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices in Violation of Federal Law." If implemented, the proposed regulation would broaden the scope of existing federal refusal laws by allowing healthcare providers to withhold medical information based on their religious or moral beliefs.


Letter from New Mexico State Coalition opposing rule

I am writing on behalf of the Southwest Women's Law Center and the other organizations listed below to request that the State of New Mexico submit formal comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in opposition to the proposed healthcare refusal regulations announced on August 21, 2008 and published in the Federal Register on August 26,2008.


Title X Backgrounder

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) included family planning as one of its “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Rightfully so – widespread use of contraceptives has been the driving force in reducing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and reducing the need for abortion in this nation.


Proposed HHS Regulation

The Department of Health and Human Services proposes to promulgate regulations to ensure that Department funds do not support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law, pursuant to the Church Amendments, Public Health Service Act § 245, and the Weldon Amendment.


Letter from Washington State Governor Gregoire opposing rule

I write to reiterate my strong opposition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) "Provider Conscience Regulation" proposed on August 21, 2008. In both intent and implementation, this proposed rule is deeply concerning as it both compromises existing state protections for health care access and threatens patients' access to basic health information and services.


Letter from Virginia Governor Kaine opposing draft rule

I am writing to express opposition to the draft proposed regulation being circulated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). If enacted, this regulation would effectively upend existing state protections for women's access to basic health care services, including many forms of birth control.


State Legislators Letter opposing draft rule

We, the undersigned members of State Legislatures throughout the United States, join the Center for Women Policy Studies and the many other medical, public health, religious, advocacy, and research groups committed to women's health in strongly opposing the Department of Health and Human Services’ draft regulations that could significantly limit women’s access to basic reproductive health services, including some of the most common forms of birth control.


Letter from Iowa Governor Culver opposing draft rule

A proposed rule change is currently being circulated by the Department of Health and Human Services that, if enacted, would significantly alter access to reproductive health care for women in Iowa. This proposed rule change would change the definition of abortion to include many forms of contraceptives and birth control. As Governor of the State of Iowa, I strongly oppose this proposed regulation and ask that you not allow it to be formally presented.


Letter from California AG Edmund Brown opposing draft rule

I am writing to express my serious concern and strong opposition to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported intention to implement the Church Amendments, the Weldon Amendment, Consolidated Appropriations Act, and the Public health Service Act. The proposed regulation, apparently, is intended to protect those who have religious or moral objections to participating in the delivery of abortion or contraceptive services from being compelled, contrary to conscience, to participate in the provision of such services.


Letter from Illinois Attorney General Madigan opposing draft rule

I am writing to express my strenuous opposition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) draft proposed regulation that would unscientifically expand the definition of abortion and would deny Federal funding to any hospital, clinic, health plan or other entity that does not allow employees to opt out of participating in delivering healthcare that contradicts the employees' personal convictions, including providing birth-control pills, intra-uterine devices (IUDs) and Plan B emergency contraception.


The Supreme Court and Abortion Access (August 2008)

The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, appeared to ensure that American women would have access to abortion, ruling out any legislative interference in the first trimester of pregnancy and putting limits on abortion restrictions that could be passed during the later stages of pregnancy. The decision followed a long history of women seeking and obtaining abortions – but with a shift in the legal status of the procedure over time.


The Supreme Court and Abortion Access

The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, appeared to ensure that American women would have access to abortion, ruling out any legislative interference in the first trimester of pregnancy and putting limits on abortion restrictions that could be passed during the later stages of pregnancy.


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