In the News
September 2017

HHS Appointees Threaten Americans Birth Control

Trump has appointed three anti-choice, abstinence-only crusading leaders — Charmaine Yoest, Teresa Manning, and Valerie Huber — to positions at HHS, which oversees Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and the Title X family planning program.

Yoest, the new assistant secretary of public affairs, was the president of Americans United for Life until last year. She’s also a senior fellow at American Values, an organization “deeply committed to defending life, traditional marriage, and equipping our children with the values necessary to stand against liberal education and cultural forces.”

Manning, the new deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, has worked with the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council, two vitriolic ultraconservative organizations. She has stated publicly that “contraception doesn’t work,” that “family planning is something that occurs between a husband and a wife and God, and it doesn’t really involve the federal government,” and that “[contraception’s] efficacy is very low.”

Huber, the new chief of staff to the assistant secretary for health, is the cofounder and president of Ascend, an abstinence-only education association. She managed Ohio’s abstinence program from 2004-2007.

Calculating the Extent of Trump’s Gag Rule Reach

Researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation calculated just how many countries Trump’s Global Gag Rule will affect. (Since abortion is illegal in many of the countries receiving our bilateral aid, the Gag Rule won’t affect every country that we assist with global health funding. One of the requirements of the Gag Rule, however, is that no organizations receiving our aid lobby on behalf of more lenient abortion laws in their own countries with their own funding.)

The study found that abortion is legal in 37 of the 64 countries that received our bilateral global health assistance in 2016, in at least one circumstance (to preserve a woman’s physical health or in the case of fetal impairment) that the Global Gag Rule does not permit.

Four Planned Parenthood Clinics in Iowa Close

Planned Parenthood was forced to close four of its 12 clinics in Iowa on June 30 because of a measure imposed by Gov. Terry Branstad that blocks funding for family planning services obtained at clinics that also provide abortion. Over the past three years, the four clinics that closed served 14,676 patients.

Obama Era Birth Control Benefit Threatened

A draft rule by the Trump administration gives any employer who has a religious or moral objection to contraception the right to refuse to cover it in their employees’ insurance plans. This takes the compromise that the Obama administration offered — to allow privately held companies and houses of worship to request an exemption — much further.

The Office of Management and Budget says that it is reviewing the “interim final rule,” which typically means there will be a period for public comments, after which the rule could be revised based on those comments.

More States Require Insurers to Provide Year’s Supply of Birth Control

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that requires any health plan issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2018, to cover a full year’s supply of birth control at a time.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage didn’t sign a similar bill that passed the state legislature, but he didn’t veto it either, so after 10 days it became law without his signature.

In both states, patients can currently only receive three months of birth control at a time, elevating the risk of missing doses in between refills.

Six states — California, Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio, Vermont, and Virginia — and the District of Columbia already have extended supply laws. Maryland has a 12-month supply law that goes into effect in January 2018.

A 2011 University of California at San Francisco survey found that women who received a year’s supply of birth control were 30 percent less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy.

Navy Improves Birth Control Access for Sailors

The Navy is making it easier for its sailors to get birth control when on land at the Naval Station in Norfolk. In April, it started offering same-day contraceptive services at the OB/GYN department of the Branch Health Clinic. Similar clinics operate in San Diego and Mayport, Florida.

Pregnancy-Related Complications Leading Cause of Female Adolescent Mortality

In 2015, pregnancy-related complications were the leading killer of adolescent girls ages 15-19 worldwide, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report. Maternal causes, including hemorrhage, sepsis, and obstructed labor, accounted for 10.1 deaths in every 100,000 girls in that age group. In African lower- and middle-income countries, the rate was much higher, at 35.7 deaths per 100,000 young women.

“Pro-Life” Hypocrisy in MD

Maddi Runkles, daughter of the board chair at the small Christian school she attended in Hagerstown, Maryland, is pregnant. As a result of this, and because she decided not to terminate the pregnancy (as she says she considered doing), she was not allowed to march in her high school graduation. She was also removed from the student council and punished with a two-day suspension.

Her family praised her decision to continue the pregnancy and called upon the school’s Students for Life group to help. They weren’t able to sway the school’s hypocritical administration, however.

Heritage Academy has a nine-point “statement of faith,” which declares that “no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of the marriage commitment between a man and a woman.” Because that’s realistic for an entire school full of teenagers.

Number of Undocumented Immigrants Dropped in 2016

Since peaking at 12.2 million in 2007, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States has been in decline. The figure was estimated at 11.3 million in 2009, and in 2016 it was down to 11 million, according to the Pew Research Center.

Half (5.6 million) of all undocumented immigrants in 2016 were Mexican, down from 6.9 million in 2007. The populations of undocumented immigrants from Central America and Asia were both up by about 200,000 in 2016, to 1.8 million and 1.5 million, respectively.

Millions of New People Internally Displaced in 2016

Nearly seven million people were newly displaced (forced to live away from home, but within their own countries) in 2016, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center and Norwegian Refugee Council, with conflict, criminal violence, and natural disasters cited as the driving forces. Three times more people were displaced by storms, floods, drought, wildfires, and other natural disasters in 2016 than in 2015.

The countries with the largest number of new IDPs due to conflict were the Democratic Republic of the Congo (922,000), Syria (824,000), Iraq (659,000), Afghanistan (653,000), Nigeria (501,000), and Yemen (478,000).

The total number of people internally displaced totaled more than 31 million in 2016.

Delaware Codifies Roe v. Wade Provisions

Delaware became the first state to codify the provisions of Roe v. Wade, in case the ruling is overturned at the federal level. Gov. John Carney, Jr, signed the bill into law after it passed the legislature by a comfortable margin.

The Illinois legislature passed a similar bill in May, but Gov. Bruce Rauner has vowed to veto it. The New York Assembly also adopted similar legislation, but it’s currently stalled in the Senate.


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