HERvotes Blog Carnival: No Religious Exemption for Birth Control Coverage

by Kim Gandy, Feminist Majority Foundation

Despite enormous pressure from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Obama Administration recently decided not to broaden the religious exemption for contraceptive coverage under the Preventive Care package of the Affordable Care Act. This demand for additional exemptions,  would have denied millions of American women contraceptive coverage, including students, teachers, nurses, social workers, and other staff (and their families) at religiously-connected or affiliated schools, universities, and hospitals, as well as agencies and institutions like Catholic Charities.

The Catholic Bishops are now leading a backlash against this decision, and women are speaking out.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of women who may have been denied access to birth control will now have full access under their health insurance plan, with no co-pays or deductibles, beginning in August 2012. Birth control is the number one prescription drug for women ages 18 to 44 years. Right now, the average woman has to pay up to $50 per month for 30 years for birth control. As a result, many women have had to forgo regular use of birth control and half of US pregnancies are unplanned.

Women of all faiths are employed by hospitals and schools that are owned by religious interests, and they should not be denied equal health care coverage.  We urge the Obama Administration to continue to stand strong for women’s health care.

Join us by sharing the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Take Action:

Join the Feminist Majority Foundation in chastising the Washington Post for repeatedly running editorials attacking the Obama administration’s decision.

Join The National Women’s Law Center and Raising Women’s Voices in thanking Kathleen Sebelius for making the right decision.

Join UltraViolet in thanking President Obama and Secretary Sebelius.

Thank the Obama administration directly on WhiteHouse.gov.

Join the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in telling President Obama you support birth control without co-pays.

Join The National Women’s Law Center in telling your senator to reject extreme legislation.

Join The Coalition of Labor Union Women in telling the Senate that you oppose S.2043.

Read more:

Sex, Contraception, Motherhood & The Current Madness - Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Mom’s Rising

The Long History of the War Against Contraception- Ellen Chesler, New Deal 2.0

Five Big Facts on Birth Control Not Nearly Enough Discussed by Men in the Mainstream Media- Erin Matson, NOW

Congressional Members’ Statements on Contraceptive Coverage Rule Not Based in Fact- Mara Gandal-Powers, National Women’s Law Center

Mission Accomplished With Komen: Now It’s Time to Save Birth Control Coverage!- Sammie Moshenberg, National Council of Jewish Women

Protect Women’s Health: Tell Your Senators to Reject Extreme Legislation- Judy Waxman, National Women’s Law Center

I Don’t Use Birth Control, But I Want Access To It- Abigail Collazo, Fem 2.0

This Week’s Attack on Women: Deny Contraceptives! Take Action!!- Carolyn Jacobson and Carol S. Rosenblatt, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Would You Like an Unplanned Pregnancy with that Burrito?- Jen Wang, NARAL’s Blog for Choice

HERvotes: Boehner Ups the Threat Against Contraception Coverage- Ms. Blog

Do Republicans Have Sex?- Ellen R. Shaffer, Silver Ribbon Campaign

Major Mainstream Religious Leaders Support White House on Contraceptive Coverage In Health Care Reform- Religious Institute

The Fight Millennials Never Expected: Birth Control- Sarah, Advocates for Youth

An Unholy Alliance Between the Bishops and the Right-Wing Attack Machine- Amy Allina, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, National Women’s Health Network

An Equal & Just World: A Woman’s Right to Control Her Own Reproductive Health- Hannah Sherman, Jewish Women International

Margaret and Helen on the Issues- Margaret and Helen

Religious Freedom in the Crosshairs of Catholic Bishops- Jon O’Brien, Catholics for Choice (Editorial in Concord Monitor)

Co-Pay for Birth Control? Not Under my Conscience Clause- Bettina Hager, National Women’s Political Caucus

Select Media Coverage:  Catholics Supporting Contraceptive Coverage Under the ACA- Complied by Catholics for Choice

Seven Things You (and the Media) Need to Know about Birth Control -Jacqueline M., Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Women Are Watching Blog

Obama’s contraception exemption puts my patients at risk -Dr. Jennifer H. Tang, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health; Letter to the Editor, The Charlotte Observer

Many Uses for Birth Control- Yolanda Evans, MD, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

Contraception Mandate Doesn’t Force Use -Bernice Durbin, Letter to the Editor, USA Today

Why All Employers Should Provide Insurance Coverage for Birth Control -Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

Delays and Barriers to Accessing BC at Georgetown -Sandra Fluke, Georgetown University Law Students for Reproductive Justice

How to Host a Birth Control Clinic in 3 Easy Steps -Emily T. Wolf, Fordham Law Students for Reproductive Justice

Obama Administration Ensures a Wide Range of Contraceptive Insurance Coverage, Even at Religiously-Affiliated Institutions -Women’s Law Project

Birth Control and Government: The Right of Refusal Should Belong to Women -Nancy K. Kaufman, National Council of Jewish Women

Through the Looking Glass on  Contraception Coverage -Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women & Families

For the Sisters -Megan Lieff, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Thank you, Obama, For Standing with ALL Women on Important Health Care Issues Lacy Langbecker, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health

Birth Control Matters -Nita Chaudhary and Shaunna Thomas, UltraViolet

Would you let someone make your contraceptive decisions for you? Didn’t think so -Mara Gandal-Powers, National Women’s Law Center

?The Highs and Lows on Birth Control Access Coverage -Stephanie Drahan, National Women’s Law Center

Hey Media: It’s about the Health of Women and Families -Leila Abolfazli, National Women’s Law Center

?Women of Childbearing Age: Take Your Talents Elsewhere -Jill C. Morrison, National Women’s Law Center

My Health Is Not a Pork Chop -Dania Palanker, National Women’s Law Center

Single 18 year-old female. Desperately seeking affordable and accessible contraception. – Keely Monroe, National Women’s Health Network

NASW Supports HHS Decision on Women’s Rights -National Association of Social Workers

Fight Against the Catholic Attack on Preventative Healthcare for Women -Mallen Urso, National Women’s Political Caucus

The Impact of a Religious Exemption for Birth Control to University Students – Emily T. Wolf, Fordham Law Students for Reproductive Justice

We’re Not Giving Up! – Amy Allina, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, National Women’s Health Network

Maryland Women Have a Right to Birth Control- Leni Preston, Maryland Women’s Coalition for Health Care

Critics Get It Wrong on Contraceptive Coverage- Marcia D. Greenberger, National Women’s Law Center

One More Time…- Jill Morrison, National Women’s Law Center

Breaking News: Access to No-Cost Birth Control Secured- Judy Waxman, National Women’s Law Center

What Difference does a Co-Pay Make? Plenty!- Cindy Pearson, Raising Women’s Voices

The Greatest Advance for Women in a Generation- Jean Silver-Isenstadt, MD, PhD, National Physicians Alliance

#Fail on Birth Control from The Washington Post- Thomas Dollar, NARAL Pro-Choice America

Response to Washington Post Criticism of Contraceptive Coverage- Nancy Keenan, NARAL Pro-Choice America

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

by Emily Alfano, National Council of Jewish Women

For the eighth #HERvotes blog carnival, our coalition of women’s groups is joining forces for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found alarming rates of sexual violence, stalking, and domestic violence. One in 4 U.S. women has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, and nearly 1 in 5 has been raped in her lifetime.

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider legislation that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the largest policy effort aimed at responding to and preventing these crimes. First passed in 1994, VAWA supports comprehensive, cost-saving responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Since its passage in 1994, more victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 53 percent.

HERvotes supports VAWA’s lifesaving programs and services and urges Congress to reauthorize and improve VAWA’s critical programs for five more years.

Let’s spread the word and make sure Congress hears our voices.

Join us by sharing the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Take Action:

National Organization for Women petition to Congress

Read more:

A Critical Tool to Save Lives: VAWA -Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, American Bar Association

Violence Is a Cycle: We Must Reauthorize VAWA -John Roach, Break the Cycle

Calling for the Reauthorization of VAWA- Brandi Callaghan, Feminist Majority Foundation

Immigration, Intimate Partner Violence, and the Violence Against Women Act -Anjela Jenkins, Law Students for Reproductive Justice Fellow, blogging for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Teen Dating Violence -Christine Bork, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

Hey Congress, How About Giving Half the Population Some Love? -Janet Hill, Coalition of Labor Union Women

“It’s a Good Time To Be a Black Woman? Well, Not So Good When It Comes To Violence”- Angela Sutton, Black Women’s Health Imperative

Combating Domestic Violence: A Call to Reauthorize VAWA- Mallen Urso, National Women’s Political Caucus

Taking the Violence Against Women Act to Higher Ground- Emily Alfano, NCJW

Tell Your Senator to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act Now- Elizabeth Owens, AAUW

Why VAWA is a Queer Issue- Terra Slavin, L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and Sharon Stapel, New York City Anti-Violence Project

Universities Should Support VAWA- Melissa Siegel, loveisrespect.org National Youth Advisory Board

Students Against Dating/Domestic Abuse- Sara Skavroneck, loveisrespect.org National Youth Advisory Board

Loveisrespect.org- National Youth Advisory Board Against Dating Violence- Kevin Mauro, loveisrespect.org National Youth Advisory Board

Teenage Dating Violence and VAWA- Nikki Desario, loveisrespect.org National Youth Advisory Board

Joining Forces – Women Veterans Speak Out: The Trenches, Remembered- Joan Grey, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation

Violence Against Women Act up for Reauthorization- National Association of Social Workers

Wake up, People! Domestic Violence is an Epidemic!- Donna Pantry, Elf Lady’s Chronicles

Recession and Women: How Economic Insecurity Enables Abuse- Donna Addkison’s, Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)

More Bipartisan Support Needed for Violence Against Women Act- Terry O’Neill, Say It Sister- NOW’s Blog for Equality


Violence is a Cycle: We Must Reauthorize VAWA!

By John Roach, Break the Cycle and student at Georgetown University

Since VAWA was first passed in 1994, there have been great strides towards stopping violence in the US.  States have passed more than 600 laws to combat the violence, the rate of non-fatal intimate violence against women has decreased drastically, and more victims report abuse to the police – in fact, there has been up to a 51% increase in reporting by women.  Clearly, VAWA has done wonders for women everywhere.

However, eighteen years later, domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking continue to run rampant among youth in the United States.  One needs only to look at the statistics to see the problem:  One quarter of High School girls have been the victims of physical or sexual abuse or date rape.  80% of female victims of sexual assault experience their first rape before age twenty five; 42% before age eighteen.  What resources are available for these youth?  Well, despite 43% of victims reporting that abuse happened on school grounds, educators and administrative staff are often untrained at recognition and intervention – possibly lending to the fact that 2/3 of young victims never even report being abused.

The lack of help for these young victims takes a legitimate toll. Victims of dating violence or sexual coercion are 3 times more likely to score mostly D’s and F’s in school than A’s. And there’s more. Young victims of intimate partner violence are three times more likely to suffer from depression, three times more likely to display disordered eating behaviors, four times more likely to contemplate suicide, thirteen times more likely to abuse alcohol, and 26 times more likely to abuse illegal and prescription drugs.

These problems are real, and yet the resources available to these young people are few and far between.  Victim service providers who primarily serve adults lack resources to deal with the specific needs of younger victims, leading to fewer youth seeking help. It is clear that we must find more effective ways to address teen and young adult domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence and stalking.  It is time to hear these stories and help these youth.

If authorized, the new VAWA (S. 1925) will help to accomplish this.  It would consolidate two programs already in place – Services to Advocate for and Respond to Youth (STARY) and Supporting Teens through Education and Protection (STEP) – to create an all-encompassing approach to violence prevention, making schools safer and relevant services available.  STARY grants allow for organizations to establish youth-focused services for sexual and dating violence, while the STEP program will help schools work collaboratively with victim service providers and pertinent organizations to ensure that all young people have access to the resources they need.  Furthermore, the new VAWA also provides services for those who are put at risk by exposure to violence at a young age. Approximately 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year.  Physical abuse during childhood increases both the risk of future victimization and perpetuation of abuse – it must be addressed directly, but most children today do not have access to these services. If reauthorized, VAWA will help establish mental health services for these children, who have typically been able to overcome their trauma when placed under such programs.  By putting necessary focus on violence among youth, VAWA can help America’s suffering young victims and prevent future suffering.

There is no denying that this is a dire issue that faces America’s youth.  But there is also no denying that something can, and should, be done about it.  What can you do?  Join the effort to prevent violence in youth culture.  Spread the word: share your story on Facebook and like this page for pertinent information and events, trend on Twitter (using the hashtag #ReauthorizeVAWA), or pursue other social media efforts.  Email Congress and tell them how much VAWA means to you.  Write to Senators who are not yet Co-Sponsors of S.1925 and ask for their support. We must be sure that Congress hears our voices.  Violence is a cycle – 35% of women who are raped as minors will be raped again as adults.  We must prevent violence before it starts.  We must reauthorize VAWA!

February is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.