March 15, 2013 — Our monthly quote round up compiles notable comments from key stakeholders in women's health. In today's edition, we feature comments on Arkansas' passage of the earliest abortion ban in the nation, Planned Parenthood's efforts to affirm support for the federal contraceptive coverage rules and more.
"[T]he law stands little chance of surviving a court challenge, but it is distressing in 2013 that a woman's right to make her own childbearing decisions is under such aggressive attack by far-right lawmakers." -- a New York Times editorial, criticizing the Arkansas Legislature's recent enactment of legislation (SB 134) that prohibits most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy (New York Times, 3/7). The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Center for Reproductive Rights are planning a legal challenge to the law (Politico, 3/6).
"We know that when women have access to birth control, they benefit, their families benefit and we all benefit." -- Dawn Laguens -- executive vice president and chief experience officer for Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund -- on the importance of ensuring that owners of private companies are not permitted to restrict women's contraceptive coverage because of the owners' religious beliefs. Planned Parenthood has launched social media and advertising campaigns to affirm support for the federal contraceptive coverage rules amid efforts by opponents to undermine the requirements (Roll Call, 3/12).
"[E]mergency contraception can safely prevent pregnancy, but for some Native women, the next pharmacy is hundreds of miles away, and transportation costs are insurmountable." -- Charon Asetoyer -- CEO of the Native American Community Board -- in a letter to the New York Times noting that despite "devastatingly high" sexual assault rates on reservations, more than 50% of clinics run by the Indian Health Service do not offer EC. NACB and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a Freedom of Information Act request to determine what actions the federal government has taken to make EC available to more Native American women (New York Times, 2/28).
"Pretty much all of the energy, all of the momentum, has been to restrict abortion, which makes what could potentially happen in New York so interesting." -- Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) efforts to enact legislation to expand abortion rights in the state (New York Times, 2/16). The measure is among the tenets of a proposed 10-point Women's Equality Act, which also would strengthen equal pay laws, combat human trafficking and address pregnancy discrimination (AP/Wall Street Journal, 3/4).
"[Emergency contraceptives'] only connection to abortion is that they can prevent the need for one." -- Susan Wood -- a health policy professor at George Washington University and former assistant commissioner for women's health at FDA -- refuting inaccurate claims that EC can act as an abortifacient, which is a central assertion by plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging the federal contraceptive coverage rules. Recent studies have verified that Plan B works by preventing ovulation and therefore, prevents fertilization from ever occurring ("Shots," NPR, 2/21).
"Our findings support calls to increase investments in family planning, especially in regions where contraceptive prevalence is still low, unmet need is high, and the growth in the number of women of reproductive age is rapid." -- The authors of a new study in The Lancet examining over 60 years of United Nations data on contraceptive prevalence and the unmet need for family planning around the world (Medscape, 3/11). The study found that despite improvements in contraceptive prevalence from 1990 to 2010, an estimated 233 million women worldwide will have an unmet need for contraception by 2015 (Huffington Post, 3/12).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership