HERvotes Blog Carnival: Celebrating the ACA and New Coverage for Preventative Care!

By Cindy Pearson, co-founder, National Women’s Health Network

HERvotes is joining our voices together in a blog carnival to celebrate and defend women’s preventive services, including contraception.  Starting August 1, all new insurance plans have to cover seven preventive services with no extra fees.  That means women won’t have to put off their well-woman exam because they haven’t met their deductible, struggle to pay for the cost of a breast pump, or use an inappropriate contraceptive method just because the co-payment is more affordable.

These new rules, part of the Affordable Care Act, are opposed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and others who believe that contraception is always wrong.  After failing to stop the implementation of the new rules through political pressure, opponents have turned to the courts, where they argue that requiring insurance companies to include contraceptive counseling and methods violates the religious liberty of businesses.  We won’t let these attacks stop us from speaking out, because we know that the availability of these preventive care services will make a positive impact on the health, well-being and economic security of women.

Through this blog carnival and our organizational campaigns, we will raise our voices to educate and support all women’s access to health care that meets their needs, no matter where they work or go to school.

Join us by sharing the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.  And be sure to follow @HERvotes on Twitter!

#HERvotes, a multi-organization campaign launched in August 2011, advocates women using our voices and votes to stop the attacks on the women’s movement’s major advances, many of which are at risk in the next election.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Read More:

Affordable Health Care for Women – Lauren Reisig, JWI

Thanks, ACA! New No-Cost Preventative Care Means More Women Stay Healthy – Desiree Hoffman, YWCA

At Long Last, Preventative Care Will Be Affordable for All Women, Thanks to Health Reform – Judith Lichtman, National Partnership for Women and Families

Taking Care of Women – Elisabeth MacNamara, League of Women Voters

The Value of Extending Preventative Care – Carole Levine, National Council of Jewish Women

Celebrating New Access to Birth Control for some Latinas, and Continuing the Fight for the Rest – Verónica Bayetti, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

No more struggling to find co-pay dollars for Contraception! What’s in it for Women? – Keely Monroe, Raising Women’s Voices

Women’s Health Care Available sans Co-Pay, Beginning Today

By Beth Scott, AAUW
Starting today, certain women’s preventive care services will be available without a co-pay to insured women. Although some women won’t have access to these benefits until their insurance-plan year begins on January 1, 2013, this coverage will benefit millions of women across the country. AAUW believes that everyone is entitled to health care that is high-quality, affordable, and easily accessible, and we believe preventive care coverage is a remarkable step in that direction.

The two leading causes of death for women in America are heart disease and cancer — afflictions that can often be prevented if women have access to services such as screenings, immunizations, and educational materials. Beginning today, insurance companies must cover — without co-pays or cost-sharing — women’s preventive health care services such as screenings for cancer, domestic abuse, and gestational diabetes as well as well-woman visits and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive services. These services are in addition to the covered preventive care services for all adults, which became available without co-pay in 2010.
After controversy over the inclusion of contraceptives on the list of covered services, the Obama administration announced an accommodation for religiously affiliated universities and employers that allows insurers instead of employers and schools to pay for this coverage. Thankfully, women will still have access to contraception without co-pay no matter where they work or attend school.
Access to preventive services such as contraception, education, counseling, and expanded health screening will help women control, track, and better manage their lifelong health. These services are so critical to women’s health and well-being that they should be available to all women without exception. A number of provisions in the health care reform law improve access to health care so that more women can get coverage.
Americans cannot continue to refuel our economy as productive members of the workforce if we are sick, saddled with health care costs, or — in the case of women — blatantly discriminated against by our insurance providers. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act means that these gains won’t be rolled back, but it’s up to all of us to make our voices heard and keep pushing for a health care system that’s equitable to women.

AAUW is working to make sure that the voices of all women are heard on issues of health care and much more. The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign is making an unprecedented investment in turning out women voters. AAUW is educating, engaging, and registering millennial women voters — young adults ages 18–30 —across the country. Together, we’ll ensure that women understand what’s at stake in 2012 and know how to use their voices and their votes to influence the election and protect women’s health care gains!
To celebrate free preventive care services for women, AAUW is hosting a virtual party. Stop in throughout August, and tell us why you’re celebrating!

                                                                                                                                                    Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

 

 

Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) Applauds Preventive Services New Health Plans Must Provide August 1

By Carolyn J. Jacobson, creator of CLUW‘s Contraceptive Equity Project and Cervical Cancer Prevention Works project

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), starting on August 1,  all new health care plans will be required at the start of their plan year to cover a variety of preventive health care services with no co-pay or deductible. Because some preventive benefits are already in place, such as prenatal screenings and mammograms, over 20 million American women have received at least one preventive health care service without having to make a co-payment or pay additional costs.

The provisions going into effect on August 1 will make preventive care more affordable to millions of Americans. CLUW President Karen See notes that this coverage is “especially important to women, as they are more likely than men to avoid needed health care, including preventive care, due to cost.”

“August 1 is a very significant day,” she added, as “on this day and over the next few years, as an increasing number of health plans come under the law’s reach, more and more women will have access to a wide range of preventive services without co-payments or deductibles.”

Preventive services in new health plans, starting August 1, must provide the following services without co-pay or deductibles:
·       Well-woman visits
·        Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
·        Contraceptive methods and counseling
·        Screening and counseling for domestic partner violence
·        Screening for gestational diabetes
·        Counseling for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV
·        Screening for HIV
·        DNA testing for high-risk strains of HPV

CLUW has partnered with a number of coalitions and organizations working in support of passage of the ACA, as well as on educating women about the law and what its provisions offer after it was signed into law.

One of these organizations, The National Women’s Law Center, has provided outstanding resources at each step of the process.   CLUW is especially pleased to point union women (including those whose plans are “grandfathered” under the law) to NWLC’s new fact sheet, How To Find Out If and When Your Health Plan Will Begin Covering Women’s Preventive Services with No Co-Pay.

It encourages women to call their respective insurance plan and it provides phone scripts (one for women whose plans are grandfathered and another for those who are not), along with suggested questions to ask to find out if the plan is providing the women’s preventive services and details about what services they are providing.

“While we celebrate the preventive provisions about to take effect,” CLUW Pres. See cautions that “we must also remember that opponents of the health care law are trying to weaken it and take away benefits. It’s incumbent on all of us to make certain that we get the truth out on the positive impact of the ACA on America and Americans, especially women and families, to all the women we can reach.”

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

HERVotes Blog Carnival: Women v. the Bishops

by Kim Gandy, Feminist Majority Foundation

Welcome to the sixth #HERvotes blog carnival on the effort by the Catholic bishops to allow some institutions to refuse, under the Affordable Care Act, birth control coverage without co-pays to students and employees of  hospitals, universities, and other institutions, or other religious affiliated or connected institutions such as Catholic Charities.

Birth control coverage with no co-pays?  Without a doubt one of the most popular benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the preventive care provisions for women require nearly every health insurance provider to cover contraception without any cost sharing.

Until now.  Maybe.  Because there’s a full court press from the Conference of Catholic Bishops (yes, reportedly even the Archbishops are weighing in) pressuring the White House to dramatically expand this refusal clause.

The Catholic bishops want to exempt the health insurance of every religiously-connected or affiliated institution from this requirement, and millions of Americans would lose this benefit – students, teachers and staff at religiously-connected schools and universities; social workers, nurses, and other staff (and their families) at religiously-affiliated hospitals that employ thousands of people, huge organizations like Catholic Charities, and many more – regardless of the religious beliefs of those employees and students.

Although the pro-choice community opposed having any exemptions from contraceptive coverage, the guidelines issued by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius contained a narrow exemption that applied primarily to houses of worship.  But the bishops want more.  Much more.
If the bishops have their way, at least six million women with health insurance will lose this new contraceptive coverage benefit, for no reason other than where they work or go to school.

We must keep the Affordable Care Act strong, and preventive care for women is critical.

Join us by sharing the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

If we spread the word far enough we can make sure the White House hears women’s voices as strongly as they are hearing from the bishops.

The blog posts below share more reasons why we need to take action now.  Happy reading and thanks for joining the fight to save contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act.

#HERvotes, a multi-organization campaign launched in August 2011, advocates women using our voices and votes to stop the attacks on the women’s movement’s major advances, many of which are at risk in the next election.  We are very excited HERvotes is growing in membership and reaching millions of people.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Birth Control Under Attack- Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women and Families

Losing My Religion: Catholic Bishops Attack Reproductive Rights, Hoping to Undermine Birth Control Coverage- Megan Kearns, Opinioness of the World

Don’t Boss My Birth Control- Amy Cotton, National Council of Jewish Women

Conservative Media Are Still Pretending That Catholics Don’t Support Insurance Coverage For Contraception- Marcus Feldman, Media Matters

President Obama: Don’t Cave in to Bishops- Say It Sister, NOW’s Blog for Equality

Fight Against an Expanded Religious Exemption that Denies Birth Control Coverage- Dren Asselmeier, Center for Inquiry on Campus

Latinas urge Obama Administration to Support Birth Control Access For All Women- Rebecca Pleitez, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Conscience Clause: Preserving Morality or Creating Immorality?- Liz Beaulac, National Women’s Law Center

Sad Reality: New President, Same Fight- Stephanie Drahan, National Women’s Law Center

Make the Promise of Preventative Care in the ACA Real for All Women- The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health

Calling On President Obama to Demonstrate His Respect for Women- Amy Allina, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need

The Catholic Church Wasn’t on My Ballot: What’s Next for President Obama and Birth Control - Abigail Collazo, Fem 2.0

What is So Wrong With Abstinence Education? – Kat Sabine – the Bitch in the house

Take Action: Don’t Let the Catholic Church Deny Birth Control Coverage to Millions – Holly L. Derr, Ms. Magazine

Is Obama Caving to Bishops out of Misplaced “Gratitude”? – Holly L. Derr, Ms. Magazine

The Other 99% – Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, blogging on Huffington Post

A Message About Birth Control from the 71% – Meghan Shalvoy, Feminist Majority Foundation

The Other 99%: Will Obama Betray Them? - Carole Joffe, RHRealityCheck

Washington Post’s Gerson Ignores Catholics’ Opinions To Accuse The Obama Administration Of “Anti-Catholic Bias“- M.F., Media Matters

Right-Wing Media Twist Pelosi’s “Conscience” Comment To Claim She “Bash[ed] Catholics”- C.R., Media Matters

Fox & Friends Hypes Gerson’s Op-Ed To Accuse Obama Of Being “Anti-Catholic”- Media Matters

Women’s Basic Health Coverage Is Not For Sale- Miri Cypers, Jewish Women International

Tell Obama to Protect Birth Control- Maureen Shaw, sherights

Tell President Obama All Women Need Affordable Birth Control- Judy Waxman, National Women’s Law Center

My Employer Shouldn’t Control My Contraception Decisions- Leila Abolfazli, National Women’s Law Center

 Blog Carnival: #HERVotes against the Bishops- Heather Prescott, Knitting Clio

Should Catholic Bishops Have the Right to Control Your Life?- Janet Hill, Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW)

An Open Letter to President Obama- National Organization for Women

Should Organized Religion Have More Rights Than Women?- Georgia Platts, Ms. Magazine

 

Check out the action petitions:

Catholics for Choice

National Women’s Law Center

Feminist Majority Foundation

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

NARAL Pro-Choice America

Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

National Council of Jewish Women

Personhood USA Spokesperson Admits Mississippi Amendment Would Affect Birth Control

By Virginia Chamlee, The Florida Independent

Despite past statements to the contrary, some “fetal personhood” supporters are now admitting that, if enacted, their legislation would likely not only outlaw abortion, but some forms of birth control, as well.

Supporters of Mississippi’s “personhood” bill have long argued that it would only outlaw abortion, but many critics say that the vague wording of Amendment 26 (which would give fertilized human eggs legal status) would likely outlaw birth control pills. Speaking with NPR’s Diane Rehm yesterday, Personhood spokesperson Walter Hoye stated that if birth control ends the life of a “human being,” it would indeed be impacted by the measure.

When asked if there were any restrictions on birth control included in the amendment, Hoye said “no… well, yes,” but added that some forms of birth control (including the morning-after pill) would be outlawed.

From NPR’s Diane Rehm Show:

Hoye: Any birth control that ends the life of a human being will be impacted by this measure.

Rehm: So that would then include the IUD [intra-uterine device]. What about the birth control pill?

Hoye: If that falls into the same category, yes.

Rehm: So you’re saying that the birth control pill could be considered as taking the life of a human being?

Hoye: I’m saying that once the egg and the oocyte come together and you have that single-celled embryo, at that point you have human life, you’ve got a human being and we’re taking the life of a human being with some forms of birth control and if birth control falls into that category, yes I am.

Hoye, who is the president of the Issues4Life Foundation (a group that has erected anti-abortion billboards aimed specifically at African-Americans) also told Rehm that in vitro fertilization would not be affected by the passage of the bill, despite objections to the contrary.

Later during the show, Suzanne Novak, senior staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued that the passage of Amendment 26 would put women at risk for criminal prosecution if they suffered a miscarriage.

“If a woman, let’s say, has exercised too much, or gotten in a car accident, if her fertilized egg is considered a person and, for any reason, she was at fault, she could be prosecuted for initiating that miscarriage,” she said, citing a recent case in Iowa where a woman fell down a flight of stairs while pregnant, and was arrested and threatened with prosecution following a comment she made to medical personnel that led police to believe she had fallen intentionally.

Cross-posted with the Florida IndependentAll rights reserved. Please do not reprint without permission.

This post is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival on the Mississippi Personhood Amendment.

Personhood Amendment Threatens Women of Mississippi, Hits Home

by Latoya Veal, NOW Press Secretary


Mississippi’s Initiative 26 — the so-called “Personhood Amendment” — hits close to home for me. I was born in Mississippi and attended school there until I graduated from college. My immediate family and many, many friends still reside in the state. In just a few short days, my loved ones and all Mississippians will vote on the statewide question: “Should the term ‘person’ be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?” This dangerously radical ballot measure would outlaw abortion and some widely used forms of contraception, placing women’s lives in grave danger.

This measure is the perfect example of the government going way too far and interfering with a woman’s control over her own body. The backers of this amendment want to stop women from accessing legal abortion care, with no regard for their personal circumstances. Legal abortion is not simply a mere matter of choice. This measure would force a rape victim to carry out a pregnancy caused by her attacker. Even a woman battling a life-threatening pregnancy could not be saved if an abortion procedure meant the difference between life and death. Outlawing abortion care will lead women to seek “do-it-yourself” and “back alley” abortions, which are not only hazardous to women’s health but could cause women and doctors to be indicted for murder for medically necessary abortions.

The National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association and other professional groups recognize implantation as the first step of a pregnancy — not fertilization. Many forms of commonly used contraception, including IUDs and some birth control pills, prevent implantation. Preventing implantation before it occurs is not abortion. While some disagree with this, their beliefs are based in ideology, not science. A constitutional amendment is a matter of public policy, not personal beliefs. It is important to keep the church in the church and the state in the state.

Mississippi currently holds the highest rate of unintended pregnancies and teen pregnancies in the U.S., as well as one of the highest poverty rates. These numbers could all increase if the measure passes, but it won’t be the only digits that will rise. According to votenoon26.org, the measure would also mean higher taxes, more government spending on social services and a bonanza for trial lawyers. Most likely, the state will become embroiled in a long costly legal battle because the measure is unconstitutional.

You may ask the question, “Why should I care about this if I don’t live in the state of Mississippi?” Mississippi is not the first state to place a personhood amendment on the ballot. A similar measure was rejected in Colorado by wide margins in 2008 and again in 2010. But this time around, I am worried that a campaign of misinformation will allow this measure to pass in my native state. I’m even more concerned that a victory could lead this extreme measure to spread from state to state. After all, in the first half of 2011, 80 laws were passed in state legislatures that restrict or put obstacles in the path of a woman’s right to choose abortion, and let’s not forget about the countless attacks to defund family planning. This could yet be another step in an aggressive round of challenges to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

It deeply saddens me to know that this amendment threatens women lives — and not just any women to me, but my sister, my nieces, cousins, former classmates, my best friend. For the next several days, I will continue to spend time talking to my family and friends back home, urging them to vote NO on Initiative 26 come Nov. 8. So, even if you don’t live in Mississippi or have ties to the state, you can still help by spreading the word and/or donating to defeat this outrageous measure. Let’s not sit back and watch the reproductive freedom be taken away from the women of Mississippi while their lives are placed in jeopardy. Instead, let’s take a stand with them and help fight this extreme measure.

Cross-posted with Say It, Sister! NOW’s Blog for Equality

This post is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival on the Mississippi Personhood Amendment.

Initiative 26 and “Personhood”: A Lesson in Deductive Reasoning

By Bettina Hager, National Women’s Political Caucus Programs Director

IF

According to Justice Scalia in 2011: Women are not defined in the Constitution as “persons.”

AND

As asserted by Mississippi’s Initiative 26: “Personhood” begins at the time of conception.  Heretofore, criminalizing abortion, miscarriage and birth control pills.

THEN: Only male life (as persons) begins at conception. Therefore, abortion, miscarriages and birth control that prohibits fertilization of female life is fully legal.

No, that just doesn’t seem right.  I guess two irrationalities really don’t make a logical point.

We seem to be at the dawn of a new political era.  A time when reason and logic are overruled by emotional reactionism, often at the result of a union of church and state.  A time when the simple muttering of “initiative” or “resolution” can send chills down a woman’s back.

On the ballot in the upcoming November 8th elections one can find a multitude of conservative measures.  Simply put, the aim is to take back the Civil Rights that have been so passionately fought for over recent, and many, decades.  One not so discreet example can be found in Mississippi, under the guise of “personhood” or Initiative 26.

Initiative 26 aims to assert that “personhood” begins at the moment of conception- when the sperm works its way into the egg.  As a result, any harm caused to this fertilized egg, embryo, fetus, or whatever term you prefer, would be criminal.  This technically would put not only the right to choice under assault, but also family planning via birth control and even miscarriage.

One would hope that this knowledge would alarm women instantly of the possible harm and control the government would hold over them.  However, it’s polling rather well.

In a moment of liberal compassion, a group of young feminists and I tried to understand the logic behind the minds who put forth such legislation.  After a minute or two we stopped.  We realized it didn’t matter and truthfully we didn’t care- it had little effect on our lives.  Their thoughts, their actions, their choices, that is.  The legislation, well, that truly can affect us- our thoughts, our actions, our choices.  It seemed unfair, oppressive, and yes, very illogical.

One may wonder why a single initiative in a single state is such a big deal.  Well, it goes back to that domino analogy.  Once you figure out the perfect angle to knock down the first piece in the set, the rest fall easily into place.  We must use our hands, voices and votes to block this initial play.  If we let even one state fall, we may not be able to stop the rest from following.

Cross-posted from NWPC Blog.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

On Personhood

By Lauren Levine, Jewish Women International Executive Associate

On November 8, Mississippi voters will be asked the question, “Should the term “person” be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?” The proposed constitutional amendment, known as Initiative 26 or the “Personhood Amendment” is the pro-life movement’s attempt to overturn Roe V. Wade, starting in Mississippi.

But Mississippi is more than just the home to the personhood amendment. It is the state with the highest infant mortality rate in the U.S. In fact, it’s the only state to hit double digits with 10.6 deaths per 1000 births (CDC). Mississippi has the highest birthrate amongst teenagers aged 15-19, at 65.7% of all births in 2008 (CDC). And since this proposed constitutional amendment is motivated by religious beliefs, it should be noted that is also the state with the highest rate of unmarried pregnancies (CDC).

Given these shocking statistics, it’s shameful that anti-choice groups have made this the focus of political debate in Mississippi. Instead of proposing religiously and politically motivated legislation, lawmakers in Mississippi must bring attention to issues that will actually improve the lives of their constituents- improved preventative health coverage and comprehensive sexual education. Actual persons in the Magnolia state deserve better than Initiative 26.

Cross-posted from Jewish Women International.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Stands with Mississippi for No on 26

by Natalie D. Camastra, Policy Intern, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

As the only national organization advocating for the fundamental human right to reproductive health and justice for Latinas, their families and their communities, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) stands in solidarity with Mississippians who oppose Proposition 26, which would undermine the rights and health of Latinas and all women:  from those wanting to plan and space their pregnancies to women who want to carry their pregnancies to term healthfully.

On Tuesday, November 8th 2011 Mississippians will go to the polls to vote on a proposition that is being described as one of the most serious threats to a woman’s right to make decisions over her reproductive health. Proposition 26, also known as, “The Personhood Amendment” would amend the Mississippi state constitution to include in its definition of “persons” all human beings from the moment of fertilization, cloning or functional equivalent thereof.  Life, under the proposed amendment, would begin at the moment that a human egg is fertilized.

NLIRH recognizes that by defining a fetus as a “person,” and endowing the fetus with the legal rights and privileges of personhood, the state strips away the rights of women to be the central authorities in all decisions about her reproductive health and choices, even in cases when her life is threatened or endangered.

  • Proposition 26 would outlaw abortion, a medically-safe and legal procedure that three in ten U.S. women will obtain by the age of 45, of which 25% are Latina. Abortion is sometimes necessary to protect the life and health of the pregnant woman.
  • Proposition 26 could outlaw the use of many forms of contraception, including “the pill”, intrauterine devices and the morning-after pill.  In fact, many forms of contraception, including “the pill” work to prevent pregnancy by making the uterus inhospitable to a fertilized egg. Latinas already face myriad challenges to accessing birth control; Proposition 26 would reverse whatever rights and access Latinas in Mississippi have to safe and effective methods of contraception.
  • By lifting the fetus’s rights to those of personhood, Proposition 26 complicates a doctor’s oath to protect the life and health of his or her pregnant patient, which can have serious consequences for the patient’s health.
  • Proposition 26 is misguided: the biological reality is that most fertilized eggs never develop into human begins. Granting these entities with legal rights of personhood goes too far.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health advocates for a standard of care that will provide Latinas with options to make decisions about their reproductive health and care: these options must be supported by medically accurate information and free from biased and coercive policies and practices.

Proposition 26 relies on biological and reproductive misinformation to undermine whatever reproductive rights and options Latinas and all women have: rights and options necessary to determine her life’s course, her participation in family and society, and her health.

We urge you to stand with us and Mississippians to vote NO on Proposition 26.

Cross-posted from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

This blog post is part of the HERvotes Mississippi Personhood Amendment Blog Carnival. For more information about Proposition 26 and how to help Mississippi defeat the proposition, please visit Mississippians for Healthy Families.

For more information about the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health here.

Mississippi Blues

By Holly L. Derr, Ms. Magazine

Folks, we’ve got a situation in Mississippi. In September, the state’s Supreme Court decided to allow a so-called “personhood” amendment to appear on the ballot this November 8. In addition to electing a governor, a secretary of state, an attorney general and members of the state legislature, voters will be asked to decide whether to amend their state constitution to include the following language:

The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.

And that’s it. The amendment does not state how or in what context that definition will be applied, what existing legal standards will be changed or what exactly will be enforceable because of it. But the implications are far reaching.

The stated intentions of Personhood Mississippi, the organization behind the amendment, are to end abortion and to provoke a lawsuit that will lead to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade:

If Mississippians vote Yes on Amendment 26 – a legal challenge will be set up to the unconstitutional court ruling ‘Roe-v-Wade’ that allegedly ‘legalized’ abortion. … The Personhood Amendment does just that – challenge Roe-v-Wade at it’s very core.

The group also makes clear that there will be no abortion exception for rape or a woman’s health or life.

That’s bad enough. Their unstated intentions are even more disturbing. The truth is, Amendment 26 would also ban emergency contraception (EC) and other forms of hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, because in thinning the lining of the uterus they may, in theory, prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to it; the termination of ectopic pregnancies, which threaten the lives of women who have them; and IVF, because you’re probably not allowed to keep “people” in petri dishes.

So far, the personhood movement’s answer to “But that will ban the pill and IVF!” has been “No it won’t.” They offer no evidence that it won’t do that and no explanation of how they intend the broadly worded amendment to be applied in those areas or in medical emergencies.

Proponents do admit that the amendment will ban the EC known as Plan B because it prevents implantation of a fertilized egg. But they tend to roll over and play dead when you point out that Plan B is made of the same substance as other hormonal contraceptives, such as the Pill. When taken regularly, the Pill works to prevent ovulation and therefore fertilization, but like Plan B it also alters the lining of the uterus in a way that would prevent implantation. Likewise, IUDs work by preventing implantation. Both could easily be outlawed on those grounds.

Supporters of Amendment 26 have offered no evidence that the law, vaguely written as it is, won’t be used to make birth control illegal. Indeed, prominent supporters of the so-called personhood amendment such as the American Family Association, which has devoted $100,000 to the cause in Mississippi, openly oppose contraception, going so far as to call it eugenics and “just as bad as abortion.” Dr. Beverly McMillan, president of Pro-Life Mississippi and a member of the advisory board to Yes on 26, has openly argued that “birth control pills do indeed cause abortions.” (McMillan’s husband, by the way, is C. Roy McMillan, an advocate of “justifiable homicide“—the murder of abortion doctors.)

And it doesn’t stop there. People in Mississippi who have trouble getting pregnant would no longer be able to use reproductive technology to do so. Atlee Breland is doing everything she can to educate the public about the real impact of Amendment 26 on IVF: She has set up Parents Against MS 26, which contains an extensive FAQ with information verified by Resolve, The National Infertility Association, that illuminates the implication of treating embryos created with reproductive technology as people. For starters, it would create quite a liability for the clinics that create and store embryos. Plus, I’m pretty sure freezing “people” isn’t allowed.

It’s hard not to think that this is another cynical effort by conservatives to get out the vote in an off-year election. Let’s hope it backfires: According to Students Voting No on 26 organizers on the ground, college students in Mississippi are riled up and ready to go. They better be, because the ballot also includes a voter ID initiative that would disenfranchise many of them in 2012.

Maybe the politicians behind the ploy don’t know that 15.3 million American women use hormonal birth control. Support for birth control is so strong that 3 in 4 Americans approve of requiring insurers to cover it and 80 percent believe pharmacists should have to provide it regardless of their “consciences.” Among women aged 18 to 40, it is the most prescribed drug in America. IVF is increasingly common as well: In 2009 (the most recent year for which data is available), 60,190 infants were born in the U.S. using reproductive technology.

We are certain that when voters understand that the amendment would ban both birth control and IVF, in addition to life-saving abortions, they will defeat it. But just in case, it wouldn’t hurt to get involved. ACLU Mississippi, Planned Parenthood Southeast and other Mississippi groups have joined together to fight the initiative and educate voters as to its real implications. Remember, it only takes one Supreme Court case to overturn Roe. Do you trust the same Court that thinks corporations are people to make the right choice here?

Cross-posted from Ms. Magazine Blog

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Photo from Flickr user WeNews under Creative Commons 2.0.