Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Faith-Based Pharmacy Opens in Virginia, Refuses To Dispense Contraception

Last week a Christian pharmacy in Virginia opened in Chantilly, becoming the 7th official pharmacy in the country that refuses to dispense contraception on religious grounds. The pharmacy, Divine Mercy Care is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, but the organization is guided by church teachings that prohibit contraception, including birth control pills, emergency contraception, and condoms. At the opening last week the pharmacy received a blessing from Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde. According to a recent Associated Press article, pharmacists in Virginia can turn away any prescription for any reason. Even though roughly 10 percent of pharmacy business is in contraceptives, the Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy is confident they can make up this loss of business with the patronage of the large Catholic population in the area. Pharmacy manager Robert Semler dismisses the threat to women’s access to birth control by saying that there are two pharmacies that do dispense contraception close by. Nevertheless, according to a National Partnership article “Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy does not display a sign stating that it does not dispense contraception.”

The opening of this pharmacy comes at a time when the country has been wrestling with the issue of health care providers refusing to provide reproductive health care services on religious grounds. In a recent Washington Times article Richard P. Sloan, professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said the DMC Pharmacy should at least refer people to stores that dispense birth control. “Not doing so appears to violate any number of professional codes of ethics of the American Pharmacists Association," he said. "The central element is that the pharmacy must place the well-being of the patient over the pharmacist's personal well-being."

NARAL Pro-Choice VA has already called for a boycott of the pharmacy and collected over a thousand signatures protesting the pharmacy's policy. "If this emboldens other pharmacies in other parts of the state, it could really affect low-income and rural women in terms of access," said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice VA.

For more information on access to birth control in Maryland pharmacies visit our website

Monday, October 27, 2008

State Ballot Initiatives: Direct Challenges to Roe

California, South Dakota, and Colorado all have ballot measures year that directly challenge the integrity of Roe vs. Wade. In California, voters are seeing the third effort in four years to enact a law requiring parental notification before a minor can have an abortion. In Colorado, an amendment is on the ballot that would officially define any fertilized egg as a “person” under the state constitution. The “proposed amendment could have sweeping implications for abortion, fertility clinics, and stem-cell research” reports a recent article on the Christian Science Moniter.

Perhaps most damaging, South Dakota has yet another ballot initiative that would effectively ban abortion. Last year, a similar bill that would have made abortion completely illegal was rejected 56% to 44%. The current initiative includes very limited exceptions for rape, incest and pregnancies that threaten the life or health of the woman. This measure is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and endangers the lives and health of women in South Dakota.

Though all three ballot initiatives are distressing, the South Dakota ballot initiative could impact the dignity, autonomy, and equality of women across the country in the event it passes and a challenge to Roe results. NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, has been closely monitoring and fighting against this bill since its inception. This election will decide the fate of women for years to come and we urge South Dakotans to reject this harmful initiative.

For Information on Pro-choice/Anti-Choice Maryland Legislation Visit our Website

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Anti-Choice Tide of Antagonism: the Result of Asking MD CPCs for a Little Accuracy

Anti-choice activists have unleashed a new round of undeserved criticism of NARAL Pro-Choice MD. The reason for the attack? Our work to shine some light on the appalling deception on the part of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Maryland. The 700 Club, a conservative news talk show on ABC Family, recently highlighted NARAL Pro-Choice MD in their report entitled The War on Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

So-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are often staffed by volunteers who push religious agendas and rhetoric. CPCs repeat myths about abortion in attempt to scare women and even often frown upon birth control. There have also been reports of delay tactics and harassment to pressure women into not exploring their options.

NARAL Pro-Choice MD conducted an undercover investigation of the Maryland crisis pregnancy centers. The Full Report Shows 100% of the CPC’s investigators visited provided misleading or false information. The result of this report was the introduction of several bills that called for the Maryland CPC’s to post a disclaimer detailing the limitations of their services. Not surprisingly, conservative anti-choice groups such as the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) are opposed to such disclosure. CBN who wrote in a recent article that the bill would
“Force certain speech issues on pregnancy centers.” Hmm…like honesty?.

Though it comes as no surprise that anti-abortion forces would stoop to using propaganda and slanted journalism to paint us as the bad guys, it shows that our important work is striking a nerve. Thank you 700 Club, for highlighting our important work!

Link to the 700 Club video
Link to the full undercover report “The Truth Revealed”
For more information on CPC’s Click Here

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Messsage For Sarah Palin

A new video entitled a Message for Sarah Palin confronts Sen. Palin’s political stance on Women’s Rights, Creationism, and Gun Control.

Link to Video

Friday, October 17, 2008

Reproductive Rights Showdown: Obama vs. McCain

In the final presidential debate of the year, women everywhere were hoping to finally hear some straight talk from the candidates on reproductive rights. breaks down the showdown line by line to wade through the double talk and innuendo.Obama, sounding very reasonable, suggested finding middle ground between pro-choicers and pro-lifers, providing better adoption services and education to women, while still fortifying his stance on putting the health of the mother first. McCain on the other hand took this opportunity to mock women’s health, accuse Obama of being a radical baby-killer, and generally alienate women everywhere.

At one point he uses air quotes around the words “Women’s Health,” causing voters and mainstream media to shake their heads in astonishment and disapproval. "The part of the debate where Sen. McCain seemed to mock the issue of a woman's health was weird and ... well, kind of disgusting. It's hard for me to see how he’s seriously pushing for the women's vote." says editor of Josh Marshall . In a similar vein,
Amanda Marcotte
at believes McCain’s comments show a “searing contempt for women”. Indeed, it seems McCain has undone all his efforts to woo the female vote to his side during the one instance he has been forced to discuss women’s rights for longer than a minute.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mothers At Risk: Maternal Mortality Rates in Sierra Leone come under the Spotlight

The Washington Post reported in a moving article on Oct 12th on the dangers of giving birth in one of the poorest nations in the world. In Sierra Leone the mortality rate during childbirth are approximately 1 in 8 women, by far the highest in the world. In the United States, the mortality rate of giving birth is 1 in 4,800. “More than 500,000 women a year -- about one every minute -- die in childbirth across the globe, almost exclusively in the developing world, and almost always from causes preventable with basic medical care,” reported the Post. “The women die from bleeding, infection, obstructed labor and preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. But often the underlying cause is simply life in poor countries.”

The Post article outlines the reasons why living in a poor nation causes high mortality rates, highlighting the lack of decent hospitals or doctors and the fact that families cannot afford medications. Furthermore, a lack of education and poor infrastructure lead to women choosing to have an unassisted home birth or not coming in for post-birth treatment. These conditions are exacerbated by the fact that rising maternal mortality rates is rarely addressed in foreign aid and charity organizations, which tend to be focused on global diseases such as malaria and HIV. While there is no fast and easy solution to this problem, it’s good to see the media acknowledge what’s being tagged as the “Invisible Death” of childbirth mortality.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Video From NARAL Confronts McCain on Abortion Rights

A new video in a series on McCain Vs. women’s rights came out this week from NARAL Pro-Choice America. The video confronts many of McCain’s own statements on Abortion rights. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, in a statement said, "Not only does McCain's record show that he's voted against a woman's right to choose 125 times, but this video allows voters to hear the truth right from the candidate's mouth."

McCain's campaign Web site calls Roe a "flawed decision that must be overturned." McCain on the site promises to nominate Supreme Court justices who "understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench," adding that overturning Roe would restore” constitutional balance" by "returning the abortion decision to individual states."

To see the rest of the Series on McCain vs. Women’s Rights Visit our Youtube Channel

Medically Unnecessary Procedures Drive Rising Childbirth Costs

According to a report released on Wednesday by a group of research and advocacy organizations, the price of childbirth may be rising due to the increasing popularity of unnecessary medical procedures such as c-sections. The Milbank Memorial Fund, a coalition of government health-policy leaders, and Childbirth Connection, a research and advocacy group, produced the report.

According to a National Partnerships for Women and Families news report “The report found that U.S. hospital charges for maternal and newborn care increased from $79 billion in 2005 to $86 billion in 2006. More than $2.5 billion is spent annually on unnecessary c-sections, which now make up almost one-third of all deliveries.”

USA Today reported that there is an increasing interest in birth assistants or Doulas because they would cut costs while improving the health of the mother. More and more women everyday are trying more natural births, not only for the health and well being of their child but also because hospital births are increasingly becoming to pricey to handle. Voluntary c-sections, increased amount of sedation and drug use, and prolonged hospital visits that cost hundreds of dollars a day even with insurance are all adding to the already astronomical childbirth costs. These costs are hindering women from having safe, affordable hospital births, which could in turn lead to an increase in women opting out of prenatal and postnatal care because of expenses.

Friday, October 10, 2008

New Study Shows Conservatives React Badly to Facts

A new study out of Yale University highlights the different reactions between conservatives and liberals when their beliefs are challenged. The study’s results show a "backfire effect" when conservatives are confronted with facts that disprove their preconceived notions. The study “confirms what argumentative liberals have long known: offering reality-based rebuttals to conservative misinformation only makes conservatives cling to those lies even harder,” reports one Huffington Post article. The study, conducted by political scientist John Bullock, involved experiments where volunteers were given various examples of political statements containing misinformation followed by factual information that disproved the statement. Throughout the study, the volunteers were polled to see how they reacted to the contradicting information they received. Both liberals and conservatives had difficultly dismissing the misinformation, however the conservatives actually showed an increased resistance to facts that challenged their beliefs. The lesson from this study is clear: Never argue with a conservative using facts. It will only convince them of the lies. We have seen this same “backfire” effect over and over. We show anti-choice activists scientific evidence that legal abortion is very safe and does not cause increased risks of cancer. We explain that when abortion was illegal women were hurt through back-alley abortions and lack of access to safe abortion providers. Moreover, we explain that birth control is not abortion and that increased access can prevent unintended pregnancy, But they are only more convinced to they are right. So how do we ever win the argument if using facts with conservative anti-choicers only entrenches their false views? Any suggestions?>Read the full story on the study here

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Keep our Care Rally

On Tuesday, October 14th NARAL MD along with coalition partners will take part in a rally to discuss the sale of Prince Georges County Hospitals

Due to financial hardships, a government-appointed Hospital Authority is seeking proposals from private health systems to take over the publicly-operated Prince George’s County system. A change in ownership could negatively impact quality of care and result in a reduction of services available to patients.

The residents of Prince George’s County deserve a healthcare system that is prepared to meet the basic health care needs of county residents. Any organization seeking to own and operate the Prince George’s County health system must guarantee to improve the quality of medical care available to county residents while maintaining the current level of services, including
• Access to family planning and abortion services;
• Access to emergency contraception; and
• HIV prevention education.

In collaboration with coalition partners, NPCM is hosting a rally to educate, motivate, and activate the community. Scheduled speakers include Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Rev. Katherine Ragsdale. The musical group N-Delible will be there to energize the crowd.

Let your voice be heard! Come to the rally to maintain access to quality health care in Prince Georges County!

When: Tuesday, October 14, 6:00pm-9:00pm.
Where: Prince George's Community College/ Queen Anne Auditorium.
Location: 301 Largo Road, Upper Marlboro, MD.

If you cannot attend the rally, be sure to sign the on-line petition and pass it on to 5 friends!

The Petition to Keep our Care!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quick and Quippy: Coercive Sterilization Programs

A California based organization, Children Require a Carrying Kommunity or CRACK (no, that’s not a joke), recently began advertising in Baltimore for a program that offers $200 to drug addicted and alcoholic women to go on long term birth control or to get sterilized.
While the founder of CRACK maintains that the program is simply offering people incentive to act responsibly, the program has received strong criticisms for being potentially coercive, racist, and unethical. Check the Baltimore City Paper for more information.

Louisiana State Rep. John LaBruzzo recently presented a similar program. The proposed plan offers to pay $1,000 to every low-income woman who gets sterilized. Not surprisingly, LaBruzzo has received similar criticisms as well.
In a recent video LaBruzza attempted to defend his proposal, complaining that the media misinterpreted his real intentions.

Both of these programs claim to offer realistic solutions to long standing problems, but the controversy surrounding the potential coercion of low-income and minority women can’t be ignored. What are your thoughts?

NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland's 19th Annual Evening of Chocolate Gala!

You are invited to our Annual Evening of Chocolate Gala on Friday, October 24, 2008 - 8 pm.

The Gala will take place at VisArts, a beautiful new facility at Rockville Town Center that features a gallery and artist studios. Come enjoy martinis and fabulous artwork!

Our keynote speaker this year will be long-time women's rights activist and newly-elected Congresswoman Donna Edwards!

This year, we will be holding a live auction and raffle featuring artwork and select luxury items. Stay tuned for more information!

Order Tickets Now!

By supporting this event, you are protecting women in their ability to make their own personal decisions.

Evening of Chocolate Gala
When: Friday, October 24, 2008 - 8 pm.
Where: VisArts at Rockville Town Center
Metropolitan Center for the Visual Arts
155 Gibbs Street
Rockville, MD
Keynote Speaker: Congresswoman Donna Edwards

Black tie optional. RSVP by October 17.
Cost of tickets: $70 members, $90 non-members.
For more information please call 301-565-4154 or email Erin

19th Annual Evening of Chocolate Sponsors

Friday, October 3, 2008

NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland in the Diamondback

This week, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Staffer Erin Schurmann spoke to the University of Maryland College Democrats about the importance of the next election for reproductive choice. Click here to read the article.

No Relief for High Birth Control Prices

For the last year and a half, reproductive health advocates have been fighting a provision in the 2006 Deficit Reduction Act that inadvertently eliminated an incentive that enabled pharmaceutical companies to provide large discounts on birth control for college campuses and family planning clinics. As a result, birth control prices have soared.

Last week, the Senate failed to advance a bill that would have reversed this harmful provision (Senators Mikulski and Cardin from Maryland voted to pass the bill). Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration objects to the provision that would make birth control more affordable. This means that college students and low-income women in Maryland will continue to see the price of their birth control skyrocket. This is unacceptable and NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland continues to urge Congress and President Bush to make this fix as soon as possible.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

‘Healthy Howard’ Healthcare Access Plan Launches Today

The Healthy Howard Access Plan or HHAP provides access to primary, specialty and hospital care, as well as prescriptions for a premium of ranging between $50-$85 a month. The program, funded by individual premiums, county general fund dollars and charitable contributions, aims to “fill in the gaps” of the county’s uninsured residents. According to the Howard County website, “The Healthy Howard Access Plan connects Howard County residents to affordable health care services and helps members overcome barriers to healthy living.” HHAP is set to launch today, Wednesday, October 1st. Applications can be submitted on Thursday, October 2nd at specific locations. Dr. Peter Beilenson, Howard County health commissioner, said in a recent article on that “this is the most ambitious local effort at universal coverage since San Francisco launched a universal coverage plan in April 2007.” This Plan is a big step forward at providing affordable healthcare for every person, and is hopefully going to be the first of many similar county-run programs in the future.

HHAP eligibility is based on age, income and location.

For more information on the Healthy Howard Plan visit the official website.

If McCain Were Elected, Roe, Watch Out!

Author Linda Hirshman recently wrote about what a world where Roe v. Wade were overruled might look like in “If Roe Goes, Our State Will Be Worse Than You Think” She writes about 1980s West Germany to illustrate: “…border guards sometimes required German women returning from foreign trips to undergo vaginal examinations to make sure that they hadn't illegally terminated a pregnancy while they were abroad. According to news stories and other accounts, the guards would stop young women and ask them about drugs, then look for evidence of abortion, such as sanitary pads or nightgowns, in their cars, and eventually force them to undergo a medical examination -- as West German law empowered them to do.”

Does it sound crazy that it could happen here in the United States? It’s not. Click here to read her article about how it might happen, and why this year’s election matters so much for women.