Kirsten is the President and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, a women’s health group based in DC. RHTP was founded in 1988 to help women in the US obtain access to RU-486. In 2006, RHTP won a great victory when the FDA made Plan B emergency contraception available over the counter. In addition to its policy work, RHTP has done groundbreaking research on messaging on abortion and related issues, using new methodologies like cognitive linguistics, psychological analysis, and advanced statistical modeling, and surveys that oversample African-American and Latino populations.
Last week, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called for access to emergency contraception over-the-counter. We need to send a clear signal to Secretary Sebelius that women’s reproductive health and medical science should be the driving force behind public policy. Sign the petition being launched by a broad coalition of medical professionals and advocates today urging Secretary Sebelius to revisit the evidence and remove the restrictions.
Flame retardants are associated with reductions in fertility, poor sperm quality, neurodevelopment delays in children and cancer. And because the chemical industry has been so deceptive and successful, flame retardants are found in strollers, nursing pillows, couches, chairs, cell phones, TVs, computers, and automobile cushioning – just to name a few places.
Let's recognize that the way to honor motherhood is to respect and support a woman’s decision about whether she is ready to be a parent. That means making sure that every pregnant woman, regardless of her ability to pay, has health care insurance coverage for all of her medical needs, including abortion.
"Dr." Kathleen Sebelius prescribed us a bitter pill when she ignored overwhelming evidence on the safety and effectiveness of emergency contraception to prohibit its sale over-the-counter. Is this change we can believe in? It’s certainly not a “common sense” solution. President Obama and Secretary Sebelius should listen to real doctors and the FDA Commissioner, and make this decision based on science, not politics.
You know how the GOP and Tea Parties hate regulations? Think again: The Regulatory Accountability Act would enforce purposeful overregulation. This law would so hamstring the regulation process that things like coverage of birth control in health reform could be tied up for years. Moreover, it would give groups like the United States Council of Catholic Bishops even more power.
The value of our work is not solely about reducing abortions, or even unintended pregnancies. It is about creating a sense of ownership among women and men about their own body and their relationships with others.
The New York Times reporter asked whether things like prenatal tests might change the debate over abortion; where do we draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable reasons for ending a pregnancy?
This was the best Halloween ever. No tricks, just one big treat. After three long years of denial and delay, the new ‘dual label' packages of Plan B were shipped out last week. That means sometime this week, those of us who are 18 and over and have identification to prove our age should be able to walk into area pharmacies and buy Plan B without a prescription. There is a difference of opinion within the reproductive health and rights community about whether this current situation constitutes a victory. Recently I was involved in a lively email exchange with a colleague who takes strong issue with my use of the word "victory" to describe the Plan B decision. He rightly points out that "the FDA's approach [to Plan B] violates fundamental principles of bioethics, including beneficence, autonomy, and justice." That it does. And I will continue to fight to make sure that when the moment is right, the FDA and Barr roll back the unwarranted restrictions on access to Plan B. In the meantime, though I am celebrating the fact that Plan B will be easier to get for many and that we arrived here with the Administration's begrudging acquiescence. Why do I believe this?
When state legislatures are passing abortion bans; when women are being denied access to birth control; when laws are enacted to criminalize pregnant women's behavior, it is easy to understand why some advocates and strategists believe the way to regain momentum is to focus on prevention of unintended pregnancy and abortion to highlight the extremism and hypocrisy of our political opposition.
Certainly, exposing the opposition's agenda will motivate some, but I believe we can and must do better. To really change the tone and direction of the abortion debate in this country, we have to acknowledge that most people are ambivalent about abortion. That's okay; uncertainty doesn't mean anti-choice. We should recognize - and indeed celebrate - that abortion is not the same lynchpin in women's equality that it once was. We must renew our efforts to build a policy agenda, organizing strategies, legal framework and long term message strategy that reflect the "pro-child" side of our "pro-choice" mission that will connect with people's hopes and aspirations for their future and their family's future.
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