Our Progressive Vision: Decisions about contraception and abortion should be made by the individuals involved, not by politicians or the government. To make these decisions responsibly, individuals need access to: (1) complete and medically accurate information; (2) birth control; (3) constitutionally protected abortion services; and (4) protection from discrimination based on a woman’s decision to take contraception, give birth, or have an abortion.
Medically accurate information
Americans deserve medically accurate information about reproductive health so they can make responsible decisions. But anti-abortion advocates rely on falsehoods. Abortion does not cause cancer. Emergency contraception does not cause an abortion. Women’s ability to conceive does not shut down as the result of rape. States and cities should guarantee medically accurate information to women at hospitals and health care centers, and prevent consumer fraud, misrepresentation and outright lies from “Crisis Pregnancy Centers.” It’s also important to provide comprehensive sex education to schoolchildren, since they may not have access to accurate information anywhere else.
In recent years it has become clear that the anti-abortion agenda is as hostile to birth control as it is to abortion. But Americans overwhelmingly support access to birth control. States can and should guarantee emergency contraceptives to survivors of sexual assault, require pharmacies to stock emergency contraception, prohibit health care workers from refusing to issue or fill prescriptions for contraceptives, and provide greater access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), like IUDs and implants.
Access to abortion
The U.S. Constitution guarantees women the right to safe and legal abortion services without interference from politicians. And yet there has been an onslaught of political efforts to erase this constitutional right. States should protect access to clinics that provide abortion services, eliminate restrictions that violate principles of informed consent, guarantee there are no double standards that hinder abortion clinics, allow all qualified providers to perform abortions or prescribe the abortion pill, mandate equity in abortion insurance coverage, and respect women’s abortion decisions.
Whether a woman carries a pregnancy to term, miscarries, or has an abortion, she should not be subject to any type of harassment or discrimination. Some women have lost their jobs for taking contraception or having an abortion, a form of discrimination that was been banned in the State of Delaware. Other women have been denied reasonable accommodations from their employers and forced to leave their jobs because of pregnancy or childbirth, something which has been prohibited in several states and localities through adoption of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
Truth in medicine
It is a prime tactic of the anti-abortion movement to deceive women and misrepresent medical facts about abortion. Most of the 2,500 “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” (CPCs) across the United States are in business to deceive women who are seeking all-options medical care. Although all Americans have a First Amendment right to say what they want, truthful or not, states can and should enact legislation to prevent CPCs from lying about medical facts, misrepresenting themselves as licensed medical professionals, or committing consumer fraud in advertising.
Prevent anti-abortion violence and harassment
Clinics that offer reproductive health are continually subjected to violence, threats of violence and harassment. There have been 37 murders or attempted murders due to anti-abortion violence over the past four decades, as well as hundreds of bombings and arson attacks. Abortion providers, clinic workers and patients are, quite reasonably, afraid for their personal safety. That’s why states and localities should pass laws to comprehensively protect abortion clinics.
Increase the number of abortion providers
Both aspiration abortions and the abortion pill are extremely safe and simple. Aspiration abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the nation while medication abortion is safer than Tylenol, aspirin or Viagra. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends allowing advanced practice clinicians (APCs)—nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants—to perform aspiration abortions and supervise medication abortions. States should permit both.
Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that the state’s teen birth rate was nearly cut in half during the first five years of its Family Planning Initiative, which increases access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (IUDs and implants). Both the birth rate and abortion rate for women ages 15-19 fell 48 percent from 2009 through 2014. LARCs are 20 times more effective in preventing pregnancy than the pill, contraceptive patch, or vaginal ring, yet only 7.2 percent of women use LARCs. Every state and city should adopt policies to increase access to LARCs.
Codify the right to abortion
There is no Supreme Court ruling that has been subjected to such a well-organized and well-funded attack as Roe v. Wade. If Roe is overturned, which could happen in coming years, state law controls the issue. And many states still have laws on the books that could automatically criminalize all abortions. Without access to safe, legal abortions, some women will die while others will be prosecuted. A few states have enacted laws to codify the right to abortion, and all others should do the same.
Fairness to pregnant workers
Federal law is supposed to prevent discrimination by employers against their pregnant employees. But loopholes and adverse court decisions mean that pregnancy discrimination continues. That’s why several states and localities have enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, commonsense legislation that allows pregnant women to continue working with limited accommodations, if warranted, as long as they don’t pose an undue hardship on businesses. Accommodations may mean use of a different chair, more frequent breaks, assistance with manual labor, temporary transfers to less hazardous work, time off to recover from childbirth, or break time and appropriate facilities for expressing breast milk.