News Abortion

Roe V. Wade Lawyer Sarah Weddington To Lose Faculty Job Due To Budget Cuts

Robin Marty

An icon in the women's rights movement will be unemployed at the end of the term

Former legislator, lawyer and professor Sarah Weddington, best known as the defense lawyer in Roe V. Wade, has been informed she will be losing her position as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas, Austin.  Weddington, a victim of university budget cuts, is currently teaching what will ultimately be her final class at the school this spring.

Via The Daily Texan:

After 23 years at the University and more than a dozen state and national leadership awards, UT officials told Weddington, an adjunct professor in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, that she would no longer have a job at the end of the spring semester.

Weddington said she was aware of the looming budget crisis but was surprised to hear her position was in jeopardy.

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“I always thought that tenure for me was not that important because I thought as long as you were really good at what you do and did a lot to work with your students, you’d be OK,” she said. “Now I know I was wrong.”

According to the University website, the Center for Women and Gender Studies has over 250 faculty affiliates.  It’s a shame they felt that the only cut possible was to remove an icon in women’s history.

News Law and Policy

New App Tracks Impact of Texas’ Family Planning Budget Cuts

Andrea Grimes

Texans can now track the impact of state lawmakers' cuts to family planning funds using a web and mobile app developed by university researchers.

Texans can now track the impact of state lawmakers’ cuts to family planning funds using a web and mobile app developed by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TXPEP), which used geo-spacial analysis and data from the Texas Department of Health Services to illustrate how reproductive health services have changed over the last two years, mapped across political districts, public health regions, and counties.

The TXPEP Family Planning Data Finder aggregates fiscal and demographic information so that users can see, either on a statewide or hyper-local level, how Texas’ 2011 family planning cuts and its dismantling of the Medicaid Women’s Health Program have affected the availability of reproductive health care, the amount of state budget savings, and the number of unplanned pregnancies in the state.

“There are some places where there was no detectable impact and other places that were completely hammered … where the services were almost eliminated,” Joseph Potter, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, told reporters in a press call. Potter is the principle investigator on the project, which launched as a response to Texas lawmakers’ decision to cut state family planning funds by two-thirds in 2011.

For example, in the far West Texas public health region that includes El Paso, the number of family planning clinics has increased, and more unplanned pregnancies were prevented in 2012 than in 2010. But in the Texas panhandle, half a dozen clinics closed, and just 388 unplanned pregnancies were estimated to have been prevented, down from over 3,000 in 2010. Despite El Paso’s good fortune, the app shows that the trend across the state reflects fewer Texans receiving a reduced number of services at a higher cost to patients, providers, and the state.

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“Rural counties were hit harder than more urban counties,” UT Austin graduate researcher Amanda Stevenson told reporters. “The cuts were worst where there was only one clinic, because now sometimes there are zero clinics.”

The app also tracks cost savings to the state, and dramatic decreases in savings are evident almost everywhere. An expected increase in Medicaid-funded births—as predicted by the unplanned pregnancy data in the TXPEP app—is also expected to raise costs for Texas taxpayers.

So the next time a Texas lawmaker wants to cut family planning funds in the name of fiscal conservatism? Ask him if he’s got a smartphone.

How to Celebrate 38 Years of Roe v Wade (or Women Are People, Too)

JAC

Tomorrow is the 38th anniversary of Roe vs Wade becoming law of land.  And it is still being debated as if the Supreme Court had not ruled and as if it were still up to states and the US legislatures to take away a woman's basic right to own her body. 

Tomorrow is the 38th anniversary of Roe vs Wade becoming law of land.  And it is still being debated as if the Supreme Court had not ruled and as if it were still up to states and the US legislatures to take away a woman’s basic right to own her body.  The day will be commemorated with a weekend of anti-abortion marches, vigils against Planned Parenthood, targeting the few abortion providers we have, and a host of events designed to promote the anti-abortion, anti-reproductive rights forces.  The shrill voices of the anti-abortion movement are drowning out the pr0-choice, women’s rights voices. 

 
On January 18, ABC News reported that Randall Terry plans to run against President Obama next year. His campaign, beginning with that great political event–The Super Bowl–will attempt to run very graphic anti-abortion ads. It is up to all of us to write CBS and demand that they reject this type of ad. We all remember the infamous failure of costuming that led to a nano section boob exposure and the outcry.  Surely, showing graphic pictures would fall into a category of not belonging on tv? 

 

NPR‘s Julie Rovner reports that Speaker Boehner claims, “A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the people, and it ought to be the will of the land.”  The Congress that was elected to work foremost on jobs is now focusing on its real agenda. First, the symbolic vote on repeal of the “job-killing health care” bill. Note, no new legislation was introduced to replace this. They also broke their own rules of showing where the Constitution allows this and how the repeal reduces the deficit. According to the neutral Congressional Budget Office, the current bill reduces the deficit. Oh, well, rules are for everyone else, not those who wrote them.

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Next is the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion bill,  dubbed “Stupak on Steroids” by NARAL.  In a detailed article on RHReality, Jessica Aron debunks the Chris Smith bill.  Simply put, the anti-abortion Congressional members have already written restrictive language into the health care law.  Led by Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joe Pitts (R-PA), the House passed a bill that re-affirmed the Hyde Amendment which bans taxpayer funding of abortions; the Stupak-Pitts amendment was even more restrictive than current law.  Thanks to Senators Boxer (D-CA) and Murray (D-WA) this amendment was not included in the Senate version and a compromise was reached.  Now, Rep. Smith is trying to enact even more restrictions making almost  impossible for a woman to have insurance coverage for abortions.  In fact, it will be almost impossible for many women to have access to health care and could impact how the government aids women’s health.  According to Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and a prominent anti-abortion supporter, this bill will strip out subsidies that are available to lower income women.  He questions how far Republicans will go.  He is referring to the elimination of  tax benefits for insurance policies that cover abortion — even abortions in most cases of medical necessity.  This bill will pass the House, it might garner some real support in the Senate. This bill must fail. 

On a day when women should celebrate the decision to end government control of their bodies by the Supreme Court 38 years ago, it is a day of reckoning and a day of resolve.  It is a day when women must once again dedicate themselves to ensuring that reproductive rights remain that.  The decision is a woman’s and not the state’s.  The irony is that the Republican Party, which is so against government mandates, government control and the government coming between a doctor and a patient, are in favor of imposing government controls regulating the actions and behavior of women.  They use these arguments to oppose the health care law, but are determined to implement them against women.  One of the top priorities of the Republican Party is to dismantle women’s rights.  Abortion is only the first step and the biggest one. 

What can you do to celebrate this day?  Email your Congressional leaders to vote against the Smith bill, HR 3 No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion. Donate to JAC to enable us to advocate for women on the Hill and to work against this bill.  Join an organization and make your voice heard, go to a rally, help at a local clinic, write letters to the editors, sign petitions, join JAC or another group in Washington, spread the word among your friends and family – in short, get involved.  Women ARE people, too – and it is time to remind the country of that. 

Gail Yamner

President, JACPAC

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