Population Matters

Do Something Really Special for Valentine’s Day

February 13th, 2012

Valentine’s Day is for lovers.  And if you really love someone, you really care about his or her health.  So why are so many men sitting on the sidelines as social and religious conservatives work to shut down family planning clinics and limit a women’s access to contraception and other preventive health services?

Good question.  Maybe they think that standing up for women is a job for women, not men.  Or maybe they just don’t realize what’s at stake.  Whatever the reason, it’s time for men to stand up for women and their reproductive health. That’s what ‘real men’ do when the women in their lives are threatened by the Rick Santorums of the world who regard contraception as dangerous, and a woman’s reproductive health as secondary to the need to procreate.  That’s what real men do when family planning clinics are shutting down and when zealots are denying victims of rape and incest the right to emergency contraception.

Come on, men, in the battle for the reproductive health of women, it is “Game on.”  And if you’re not making calls to your federal and state legislators, than you are not in the game.  Maybe you think that women don’t need your help on this one.  If so, you would be wrong.  Dead wrong.  A family planning clinic near you or a woman you love may already be shutting down; several states have slashed funding.  Social conservatives in Congress are bent on denying federal funding to clinics that, in addition to family planning, provide lifesaving breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings.  If you didn’t know that already, you’re not paying attention.

And, men, just in case you are not reading this article, I’m calling on the women in your life to let you know that if you care about them and their reproductive health, you should care enough to get involved.

That’s why the Population Institute is encouraging women to send a special e-Valentine to the men in their lives this year. And the message is very simple:

Roses are red.

Violets are blue.

Men who love women,

Care about their health too.

Every woman, rich or poor, deserves access to family planning services and quality health care. 

Be my Valentine!

Stand up for women and their reproductive health.

If you’re a man, we have an e-Valentine that you can send to the women in your life, letting them know that you are on their side in the fight for reproductive health and rights.  It won’t substitute for flowers or candy, but remember:  it’s the thought that counts.

Posted by Robert J. Walker, President


President Obama Compromises, but Doesn’t Compromise Women’s Health

February 10th, 2012

President Obama today issued a statement outlining a compromise approach to ensuring that women working at religiously affiliated hospitals and universities will be able to get their contraceptive needs covered by health insurance.  In making his announcement, the President made it clear that he was not willing to compromise the health of those women who want access to contraceptives.

According to the President:

Nearly 99 percent of all women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives –- 99 percent.  And yet, more than half of all women between the ages of 18 and 34 have struggled to afford it.  So for all these reasons, we decided to follow the judgment of the nation’s leading medical experts and make sure that free preventive care includes access to free contraceptive care.

Whether you’re a teacher, or a small businesswoman, or a nurse, or a janitor, no woman’s health should depend on who she is or where she works or how much money she makes.  Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health. Period.

While the new rule would allow religious institutions with religious objections to opt-out of covering birth control, the participating insurance company would be required to offer such coverage. The insurance company would also be responsible for contacting the employee and letting them know about the benefit.  Religious-affiliated institutions would not be required to do anything.

This new rule addresses the concerns that were raised by the Catholic Church, but does so without jeopardizing the reproductive health of women.

Thank you, Mr. President, for finding a compromise that did not compromise women’s health.  A woman’s reproductive health should not depend on who she is or where she works or how much money she makes.

Posted by Jennie Wetter, Program Manager

Standing With Women and Mainstream America

February 10th, 2012

In formulating his decision to make birth control available with no co-pay, President Obama has had to walk a tight rope with women’s health on one side and freedom of religion on the other. This tight rope is proving to be especially precarious with groups on both sides watching closely for any misstep. Luckily for women, the President listened to his own conscience in making his final decision.

In the past few days, however, religious and social conservatives have been fighting back. The Catholic Church and the Republican presidential candidates have been in full attack mode, insisting that the President has launched a “war on religion.”

Conservative political pundits insist that the President has made a political blunder.  But is that right? According to recent polling the answer is NO. A new Public Policy Poll released this week shows 56 percent of voters support the birth control coverage benefit, including 53 percent of Catholic voters, and 62 percent of Catholics who identify themselves as independents. This poll is not alone: the Public Religion Institute also released a poll this week which showed 58 percent of Catholics believe that employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception.

Even though the regulation only applies to religious-affiliated institutions, such as hospitals and schools, and not to the religious institutions themselves, the opponents of the regulation insist that it’s a violation of religious and personal freedoms.  But whose?   What about the nurses, secretaries, janitorial staff, and other employees of all faiths who work at Catholic hospitals or universities and who want contraceptive coverage. What about them? And what about practicing Catholics who disagree with the church’s position on contraception? What about their religious and personal convictions? According to the Guttmacher Institute 98 percent of sexually experienced Catholic women use birth control at some point in their lives.

When you look at these public opinion surveys you realize that President Obama didn’t just choose to stand with the majority of women – he chose to stand with the vast majority of Americans who, regardless of their religious denomination, believe that women should have access to modern methods of birth control.

Later today, the Obama Administration is expected to offer a compromise that is designed to satisfy his critics.  Let’s hope that he doesn’t desert his conscience…or the reproductive health and rights of women.

Posted by Jennie Wetter, Program Manager

Another Assault on Women and their Reproductive Health

February 1st, 2012

The war against women and their reproductive health and rights has taken another bizarre and tragic turn.  The Susan G. Komen Foundation, which has done outstanding work on breast cancer treatment and prevention, has withdrawn the funding it provides to Planned Parenthood for breast exams.  The official explanation that’s been given for the reversal is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation, but speculation is rampant that the real reason is that the new Vice President of Komen, who is strongly anti-abortion, objects to the abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood.

Whatever the real motivation, the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s action will only make it more difficult for women, particularly low-income women, to access the family planning and preventive health care services they need.  Such an outcome is clearly at odds with Komen’s efforts to improve women’s health.  But it is also at odds with those, including the Vice President of Komen, who say they want to reduce the number of abortions being performed in this country.  Shutting down more family clinics will only increase unintended pregnancies and the number of women electing to terminate a pregnancy.

The “anti-choice” movment, it appears, is swiftly evolving into an “anti-contraception” movement.

It’s time for all those who care about reproductive health and rights to make their voices heard.  Let the Susan G. Komen Foundation know how you feel.

Posted by Robert J. Walker, President