Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Women Lose Bid for Contraceptive Equity

Female employees of AT&T in Kansas City lost a class action lawsuit to gain insurance coverage of their birth control pills. According to the Kansas City Star, the judge threw out the charges because of a ruling earlier this year regarding the coverage of birth control for females employees at Union Pacific Railroad.

" 'In that case, the 8th Circuit reversed a lower court ruling finding that Union Pacific Railroadhad violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 by not providing coverage of prescription contraception to its female employees.

A three-judge panel of the appellate court ruled that contraception was not "related to" pregnancy for purposes of the law "because, like fertility treatments, contraception is a treatment that is only indicated prior to pregnancy. Contraception is not a medical treatment that occurs when or if a woman becomes pregnant; instead contraception prevents pregnancy from even occurring."

Union Pacific had argued that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act relates only to discrimination against a woman for medical conditions that occur after she becomes pregnant, while the use of contraceptives relates only to human fertility before pregnancy.' "

Does your insurance company cover your pills?

Learn more at or watch for updates on Oklahoma's attempt to gain Contraceptive Equity in 2008.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Oklahoma Ranked 12 in the Nation for Repeat Teen Births

According to a recently released Child Trends Research Brief, Oklahoma ranks 12th in the nation for repeat teen births. The report sites that "nearly one-fifth of teen births that year were repeat births - births to teens who were already mothers."

The report states that in 2004, 21% of teen births in Oklahoma were to teens who were already mothers. As alarming as this number is, it is still down from the 1999 study which 23% were already mothers.

It is very important when a teen gives birth that she is immediately given information on contraceptives so that she's more likely to stay in school.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reproductive Rights UPDATE!!!

There is so much going on these days concerning reproductive rights in America.

1. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri are facing criminal charges as a consequence of providing abortion care. This has been three years in the making lead by then Attorney General, Phil Kline, who was defeated and replaced by pro-choice attorney, Paul Morrison last year.

“We cannot allow anti-choice politicians to harass and intimidate women or doctors in Kansas. Planned Parenthood operates in accord with state and Federal law and will continue to fight to protect access to safe, professional medical care, free from political or government intrusion,” Brownlie said.

“This attack on women’s rights must end,” concluded Brownlie. “Planned Parenthood will meet this attack head-on and we are certain we will be fully exonerated yet again. This matter is in the hands of the court, and Planned Parenthood has immense confidence in the integrity of an independent judiciary in Johnson County and the good judgment of the Kansas citizens. Meanwhile, we will continue to provide confidential health care and education to women and families across Kansas and Missouri.”

When the going gets tough, the tough get going...

2. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) filed two attacks on Planned Parenthood this week. Sen. Vitter offered one amendment to restrict Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funds and a second amendment to prohibit federal funding for all federal health programs that perform abortion services. Thankfully the amendment was voted down 54-41.

3. President Bush recently announced the appointment of anti-family planning, anti-sex education hardliner Susan Orr to the position of acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs (DASPA). Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA), along with Congresswomen Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Diana DeGette (D-CO), joined Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Cecile Richards and Mary Jane Gallagher from the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) to denounce the appointment.

They called on President Bush to replace Orr with someone qualified and committed to family planning. The DASPA oversees Title X, the nation's family planning program, which provides high-quality family planning and preventive health care services to more than five million low-income individuals annually, helping prevent more than one million unintended pregnancies each year.

4. Another attack on reproductive health in America may be introduced today in the form of several anti-choice amendments from Senators Brownback and DeMint. Possibly four amendments would eliminate teens' ability to access any form of contraception (including condoms and oral contraceptives) at school based health centers. The Brownback-DeMint amendment prohibits schools that receive federal education funds from distributing any form of contraception to students under the age of 16, even with parental involvement.

Please contact Senator Inhofe (R) at 1-202-224-4721 or 405-608-4381/918-748-5111 and Senator Coburn (R) at 202-224-5754 or 405-231-4941/918-581-7651 and encourage them to vote NO on these horrific amendments.

5. One good amendment we want Oklahoma Senators to vote YES is the Lautenberg-Snowe Medical Accuracy Amendment. The Lautenberg-Snowe amendment demands medical accuracy for abstinence-only programs. A vote in support of this amendment would protect teens’ health by ensuring that sex ed programs provide medically accurate information that will help teens make healthy choice s and prevent unintended pregnancies.

6. Catherine Roraback, the attorney who successfully argued Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1965 that legalized birth control for married couples in the United States, passed away this week. Below you'll find an excerpt from her obituary listed in the New York Times:

"Catherine Roraback, a lawyer who pressed the Connecticut case that eventually led the United States Supreme Court to rule that laws banning the use of contraceptives were unconstitutional, a precursor to its Roe v. Wade decision on abortions, died on Wednesday in Salisbury, Conn. She was 87.

In the early 1960s, Ms. Roraback represented Estelle Griswold, then the executive director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut, and Dr. Charles Buxton, the chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University's School of Medicine, as their case rose through the state courts.
For years, Ms. Griswold and Dr. Buxton had fought to overturn an 1849 Connecticut law that prohibited the use and prescription of contraceptives.

In 1965, a noted First Amendment scholar, Thomas I. Emerson, argued the case of Griswold v. Connecticut before the Supreme Court. In a 7-to-2 decision, the court found that the ''statute forbidding use of contraceptives violates the right of marital privacy, which is within the penumbra of specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights.''

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Oklahoma Receives F on Women's Health Report Card

The National Women's Law Center and Oregan Health and Science University released their National Report Card on Women's Health today.

Oklahoma ranks 48th and received an F grade, check out States failing in area of women's health.


Today the House failed to override the veto of the SCHIP legislation. I just don't understand.

Maine School Board Approves Birth Control Option for Middle School

This is a great effort to prevent unwanted pregnancy among teens in Maine. As shocking as it may be, if teens are talking about protecting themselves from unwanted or unintended pregnancy, parents should be proud that they're taking responsibility for their health and future.

Oklahoma is currently ranked eighth highest in the nation for birth rates in females age 15-19 and females 15-17. We must do better educating our children about reproductive health and sexuality.

Check out Birth Control For Maine Middleschoolers.

Parents, need help talking to your kids about sex? Planned Parenthood can help.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Deficit Reduction Act Placing Damper on Pill Prices

Huh? How the heck does the Deficit Reduction Act effect your pill prices? Well, lets see.

In the Deficit Reduction Act, which went into effect in January, Congress inadvertently changed a rule and made it harder for universities and some safety net family planning providers to provide their patients with affordable birth control.

Birth control is essential to helping women and couples plan healthy families. Access to affordable birth control depends on three factors — like a three-legged stool. The first leg consists of providers like Planned Parenthood that offer a safety net for high-quality, affordable family planning. The second leg consists of the responsible drug companies that provide cost-effective birth control to safety net providers. And the third and equally vital leg is Congress, when it prioritizes pro-family planning laws and policies and makes women’s reproductive health a public health priority.

Congress wants to change the drug-pricing laws that enable the nation's most needy women and couples to access birth control services from safety net providers like Planned Parenthood. Congress needs to hold up its leg of the stool by fixing the Deficit Reduction Act.

U.S. News and World Report recently published an interesting article on how the DRA is effecting pill prices on campus.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Emily X blogging about working for Planned Parenthood

All Planned Parenthood affiliates get some type of harrassment and our Oklahoma affiliates are no different. Could spend time blogging about the anti-choice phone calls and weird letters but we won't go there today.

Check out this new blog called I AM EMILY X. Emily X gives insight to what it's like to work at a Planned Parenthood affiliate under fire...

Thanks Emily X, we appreciate your perspective.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Exposing the Chiuahua in the House

I've just returned from a truly wonderful conference today in Oklahoma City titled, "Stop the Hate in the Hallways." This bullying prevention conference was sponsored by the Cimarron Alliance Foundation along with a long list of community partners, including Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma. Nearly 300 people were in attendance.

The keynote speaker for the conference was Kevin Jennings, the founder and executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Jennings spoke with insight and passion about the need for adults to ensure safe environments for all young people. He cited several studies that showed how inclusive school policies, programming and practices successfully create these safe environments and increase academic performance.

I found it particularly meaningful when Jennings shared with us survey findings that the vast majority of parents of school-age children -- 83 percent of them -- supported anti-harassment and nondiscrimination school policies that included lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. A very small number, only 12 percent of the parents surveyed, opposed inclusive policies.

Then why don't all schools have inclusive policies?

Jennings told an insightful story about his mother's pet chihuahua that I will remember for the rest of my life. He said, "When someone knocks on my mom's front door, the chihuahua goes nuts--barking loud and non-stop--which gives people on the other side of the door the impression that there's a big and powerful, even vicious dog waiting for a chance to pounce. But if the door is opened, nothing but a tiny, scared pup is revealed."

In other words, that 12 percent minority is so vocal and intense that school boards and school officials mistakenly believe they are the majority. Why risk doing the right thing when you think you'll be pounced upon by a pit-bull in retaliation?

Well, turns out it's not a pit bull; it's a chihuahua.

Wow, could I ever relate to that. The same thing can be said about the minority of parents who oppose reality-based school sex education as well as the minority of Oklahomans who believe abortion should be criminalized. Even though the far-right and anti-choice groups are the minority, they bark so loud and for so long that they intimidate policymakers into thinking they are the majority.

Our challenge is to convince policymakers that, in fact, these anti's are far from the controlling majority. For me, the take-home message of today's conference was this: We MUST find our voices. The progressive majority MUST learn to be comfortable in speaking up and speaking out. Although we had a number of disappointments in the 2007 legislative session, we did learn that speaking up makes a difference in public policy. As the Planned Parenthood slogan goes, "There's power in your voice. Use it!"

We can't, and we won't give up. We WILL have an impact, and we WILL expose the chihuahua in the house.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Common Ground

Will there ever be common ground on the issue of abortion? A think tank called Third Way started in 2005 is trying to find some common ground to hot button issues like abortion, gay marriage and gay and lesbian rights. The group combines evangelists and progressives to discuss and research ways to come together.

Check out The Search for Common Ground.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Congratulations to Planned Parenthood in Aurora for opening their new clinic!


The State Children's Health Insurance Plan was vetoed by President Bush and sent back to congress for a veto over ride attempt on October 18th. The Senate has a veto proof margin but the House lacks two dozen votes to over ride the veto. Only one Oklahoma legislator voted in favor of SCHIP.

This would benefit Soonercare in our state, covering children whose families don't qualify for medicaid but can't afford quality health insurance. There is little time to change the minds of our U.S. Representatives, but it is important that we let them know we support legislation that helps the children of Oklahoma.

For more information go to:

U.S. Representatives from Oklahoma are:

John Sullivan (R)
Dan Boren (D)
Frank Lucas (R)
Tom Cole (R)
Mary Fallin (R)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Update on Teresa Hernandez

Teresa Hernandez accepted a plea bargain of second degree murder last month. She was charged for suffering a stillbirth at 32 weeks of pregnancy based on the highly questionable medical claim that the pregnancy loss can be attributed to Ms. Hernandezs drug use during pregnancy.

As Dr. Dana Stone, the Oklahoma state chair for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and one of the experts signing an amicus brief on behalf of Hernandez, explained: "Stillbirths and miscarriages are unfortunately a risk of pregnancy for all women. Prosecuting women for pregnancy loss based on what they allegedly did or didn't do will only deter women from seeking prenatal care and drug treatment, and that's ultimately bad for babies."

In the brief, Hernandez's supporters argue that prosecuting her would discourage drug-dependent women from seeking health care during pregnancy and thus negatively affect both their health and that of their unborn child.

"We don't want to set this precedent," said Stone who signed the amicus brief, said medical issues involving drug use during pregnancy should be addressed by medical experts and not through the use of the legal system.

She said using methamphetamine while pregnant "can't be a beneficial thing at all for your baby," but that no studies definitively prove using the drug would lead to a child being stillborn."

"What is dangerous is prosecuting her legally for a medical outcome that can occur with or without a drug issue," Stone said.

Dove's NEW Commercial on Self Esteem

Very interesting, what are your thoughts?