The Quarterly E-Newsletter of ACCESS/Women's Health Rights Coalition
Greetings from ACCESS! Fall has arrived and ACCESS
has exciting news to share. First, we can now send our new quarterly e-newsletter
directly to your inbox. As someone's who's requested
an electronic version of our newsletter, you will now
receive our e-newsletter instead of a paper version.
But if you prefer a paper version, just let us know!
Second, we've started a new Email List! You can
receive action alerts, ACCESS updates and invitations
to events, and other relevant info every month or
two. We will be sending an "opt-in" message to your
email address soon so you can choose to join (or
not!). Please encourage your friends, family, co-
workers and classmates to join as well!
IN THIS ISSUE...
News You Can Use--Reproductive Rights
Health Care in Cuba
Celebrate 5 Years with Parker
Women Can Decide Elections
Making Choice a Reality...Haciendo Realidad La
Choose to Shop!
News You Can Use
Reproductive Rights Updates
Abortion Ban Struck Down
On September 8th, the third and final ruling on the
abortion ban cases was decided in Nebraska. Judges
in all three challenges (the other two were in San
Francisco and New York) agreed that the "Partial-
Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003" is unconstitutional.
Appeals are expected all the way to the U.S.
Supreme Court, whose future composition of judges
will likely be decided by the next president.
Maternity Benefits: Optional?
A bill on Governor Schwarzenegger's desk would-if
signed into law-require all individual health insurance
plans to include maternity benefits. SB 1555 responds
to the growing practice of health insurance
companies to offer cheaper premiums to people who
decline maternity coverage. Opponents of the bill,
such as Blue Cross of California, say it's unfair to
pass the costs of maternity coverage onto society
because not everyone will become pregnant and use
such benefits. If SB 1515 is signed into law, Blue
Cross predicts that individual premiums could rise as
much as 40%. In a time where health insurance is
already financially out of reach for millions of
Californians, this is a serious concern.
However, supporters of the bill, including Planned
Parenthood and the American College of Obstetricians
and Gynecologists, argue that rising health care
costs are due to many factors and that excluding
maternity benefits discriminates against women. It
also jeopardizes the health of women and children by
encouraging women to gamble that they will not need
prenatal care-when in reality, nearly half of
pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.
Women who opt for a cheaper plan without maternity
coverage and then become unexpectedly pregnant
find themselves with a "pre-existing condition" -
leaving them solely responsible for the large medical
bills associated with prenatal care and delivery. If
unable to pay, many women receive less than
adequate care or turn to already over-burdened
state programs like AIM and Medi-Cal for assistance.
Paid Family Leave in CA
A new law in California allows most employees to take
up to six weeks off from work to care for a new
infant, newly adopted child, or a sick spouse or
parent while receiving up to 55% of their regular pay.
The first of its kind in the nation, the law requires
that a doctor verify a serious illness or a new child,
and workers must provide verification that no other
family member can serve as caregiver. Former Gov.
Gray Davis signed the law over two years ago, and
since January of this year, California workers have
been paying into a fund for the law through payroll
deductions. Unfortunately, a recent study found that
the people most likely to benefit from the new law,
especially women of childbearing age, are the least
likely to be aware of the law's existence. Although
not yet widely used, Family Leave is expected to
provide some relief for those who have had to choose
between work and family, especially working parents-
Plan B over-the-counter?
As you may remember, in May the FDA rejected over-
the-counter status of the emergency contraceptive,
Plan B, despite the recommendations of two FDA
advisory panels. Despite rumors that the FDA will
reverse its decision by the end of the year, most
advocates are skeptical that a ruling will take place
before the election, since a reverse decision could
anger conservatives. To show the FDA that you
support emergency contraception over-the-counter,
visit the Feminist Majority's web site and send a
message to the FDA at www.feminist.org/action/.
GOP Rejects 'Unity Plank'
The Republican Party platform committee rejected a
proposed 'unity plank' that would have acknowledged
that some Republicans have different views on
abortion, contraception and gay and lesbian issues.
The GOP rejected the plank in favor of more vague
language: "members of our party can have deeply
held and sometimes differing views." The committee
also voted to endorse a constitutional ban on
abortion and applauded George W. Bush's restrictions
on federal funding for stem cell research.
Health Care in Cuba
By Joan Flores
My summer vacation had a little bit of the usual-
beautiful beaches, loud festive music, a cocktail here
and there. In between "summer vacation" antics,
however, I had an opportunity to get a glimpse of a
different kind of health care system, one that treats
a woman's reproductive health pretty differently than
is done here.
This past July, I (along with 77 other folks from the
U.S.) spent two weeks in Cuba as part of a travel
challenge against the U.S. economic embargo and
travel restrictions placed on the island. During the
trip, we visited schools, clinics, and organic urban
gardens, and we met with women's groups, unions,
and student associations.
It was a truly eye-opening experience to witness so
many different parts of Cuban life, but I was most
impressed by Cuba's health care system. In spite of
the country's limited resources, Cuba has managed to
create a system of care that rivals that
of "developed" nations.
Access to health care is a basic human right that is
extended to everyone in Cuba, free of charge. People
can visit their neighborhood consultation center for a
general check-up, information on nutrition or safe
sex, or to have their child immunized. Polyclinics exist
in each community and treat a variety of health
issues from abortion to high blood pressure. And
there are of course hospitals for more serious
illnesses and treatments.
I had the chance to speak with a few doctors and
nurses about abortion, birth control, and other
reproductive health issues-abortion training is part
of the "general education" curriculum that doctors
study in medical school, so all doctors are trained to
provide abortions, no matter what their specialty is.
Abortion in Cuba is generally legal up to 9-10 weeks.
During the first 6 weeks, a woman can get
regulaciones menstruales, or menstrual extraction;
from 6 to 10 weeks, a vacuum aspirator is used.
Abortions past 10 weeks but up to 20 weeks are also
legal, but only under certain circumstances.
Health care professionals emphasized that prevention
is very important in Cuba. Birth control methods like
the pill, Depo shots, the IUD, Norplant, and condoms
are available at neighborhood clinics and polyclinics,
for free. Public education is equally important; "PSAs"
on the radio and television teach the public about
STIs, AIDS, safe sex, and other sexual health issues.
Posters and murales (bulletin boards) provide
information on anything from breast cancer to
But issues of access also plague the Cuban health
care system. The economic embargo placed on Cuba
over 40 years ago has meant that medical equipment,
medicine, and other supplies have to be donated to
the country or purchased from "third party" countries
at extremely high prices. Much of the equipment I
saw at clinics is ancient compared to what you'd find
here. One reason why abortion generally cannot be
performed past 10 weeks is because the vacuums
used are very old and pose health risks to women.
Medical supplies as basic as surgical steel needles are
hard to come by in a country that cannot trade
directly with the U.S
As I chatted with doctors and nurses, visited clinics,
and spoke with "everyday" women, it became
apparent that many of the things we are working for
here at ACCESS already exist in Cuba. I know that
despite a health care system that truly puts people
before profit, there are many issues and problems
that Cubans and their country deal with. But
witnessing Cuba's health care system instilled in me
the belief that anything is possible. That's an
important belief to hold onto, considering the many
obstacles to health, peace, and justice that we
witness at ACCESS and beyond!
If you have medical supplies or medicine that you
can donate to benefit the health care system of
Cuba, please contact me at email@example.com
Celebrate 5 Years with Parker
Join the ACCESS Fundraising Challenge
August 2004 marked (Jennifer) Parker's 5th
Anniversary as Executive Director of ACCESS. To
celebrate this special occasion, "Jane"-an
anonymous donor-has given a generous gift of
$5,000 to ACCESS! Jane has also challenged ACCESS
to raise another $5,000 in matching funds from our
supporters, and we need your help!
Parker came to ACCESS as a volunteer back in 1996,
then worked as the Hotline & Practical Support
Coordinator and spent one year on the Board of
Directors. As Executive Director, Parker has tirelessly
worked to make ACCESS what it is today-a
grassroots, multicultural organization fighting on the
frontlines of the reproductive freedom movement.
Help ACCESS meet JANE'S challenge and
celebrate Parker's 5th anniversary-make a gift of $25,
$50, $100 or
more by clicking on the "Donate Now" button on our
Women Can Decide Elections
Vote on November 2nd
On August 26, 1920
the 19th Amendment declared
that the right to vote
cannot be denied on the basis of sex.
Yet in the 2000 Election,
almost 40% of eligible women voters
- including 15 million women aged 18-34 -
chose not to use their power to vote.
Women can decide elections.
Your vote is your voice-let them hear you!
VOTE ON NOVEMBER 2nd!
In California you must register to vote by October
for information on how to register
or to get involved in voter registration activities
contact ACCESS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making Choice A Reality...
Haciendo Realidad La Opcion
"Tiffany" called ACCESS fearing that at 14 weeks she
was too far along to get a safe abortion. Our hotline
intern Janet explained to Tiffany that she was still
well within the time frame to have the procedure.
Tiffany was particularly anxious about experiencing
pain during the abortion and was relieved to hear of
the different types of anesthesia available to her. At
the end of the conversation, Janet sensed that
Tiffany still had some doubts, and encouraged Tiffany
to call back any time if she wanted to talk more.
A young Stockton woman called in search of an
abortion referral. When ACCESS intern Alexis asked
how she planned to pay for her abortion, the woman
said her mother was going to pay for the procedure
because a Medi-Cal worker had told her it would take
40 to 45 days to receive coverage. Alexis explained
that she could apply for Emergency Medi-Cal, which
would allow her to get insurance within a few days
and schedule her abortion without delay. The young
woman was relieved-her mother earned minimum
wage and did not have a lot of money. Alexis
encouraged the woman to call back if she needed
more referrals or if she experienced any problems
"Rocio," a teen from the Central Valley, wanted to
begin taking birth control pills but could not afford to
pay for it. She was concerned that her parents would
not approve and could not ask them for the money.
Hotline intern Becca told Rocio about Family PACT, a
comprehensive family planning service for low income
women and men. Becca provided a list of doctors and
clinics participating in FamilyPACT and encouraged
Rocio to call them. Becca also described the various
other methods of birth control available-the patch,
the ring and Depo Provera. Rocio was very thankful
for her help.
Alma received a call from "Carla," a 19 year-old
mother-to-be. She needed information on housing for
low income pregnant women. Alma gave her
information about Section 8, a federal program of
housing vouchers that are distributed locally. She
also told Carla about WIC, a program that benefits
women, infants and children with funds for healthy
and nutritional foods as well as other important
information and services. Alma explained that Social
Services could help Carla apply for these programs
and gave her local telephone numbers to call.
Sonia de 18 a�s de edad, llam�a ACCESS desde
Visalia porque estaba embarazada y necesitaba
informaci� sobre donde encontrar un proveedor de
los servicios de aborto. Sonia vive con sus padres y
ten� seguro m�ico por medio de ellos, pero no
quer� usarlo por temor a que se enterar� de su
embarazo y la corrieran de casa. Alma entendi�su
dilema, y le inform�sobre el Medical de Emergencia
bajo el Programa de Consentimiento del Menor
(seguro m�ico estatal que cubre los servicios
relacionados con embarazo), en el cual no se requiere
el consentimiento de los padres y se respeta la
confidencialidad del menor.
Una adolescente de nombre Roc�, llam�a ACCESS
desde el Valle; porque quer� comenzar a tomar la
pildora anticonceptiva pero no pod� pagar por ella.
No quer� pedir dinero a sus padres porque tem� que
no lo aprobaran. Becca, una interna en ACCESS le
explic�a Roc� sobre Family PACT (programa estatal
que cubre los servicios de planificaci� familiar y de
salud reproductiva). Becca la provey�con una lista
de participantes del programa y la alent�a que
obtuviera anticonceptivos de manera gratuita.
Adem�, le describi�los diferentes m�odos
anticonceptivos disponibles -el parche, el anillo y
Depo (inyecci�). Roc� agradeci�a Becca por su
Choose to Shop
ACCESS goodies now available online!
Wear your commitment for reproductive freedom with
t-shirt, hoodie, messenger bag, and more from
Each time you shop at our on-line store, ACCESS will
receive a portion of your purchases. Choose from
different sizes and styles, or find a special gift for a
friend, child, or your dog!
ACCESS Mission Statement
ACCESS exists to make reproductive health and
freedom a concrete reality for all women. We believe that women's right to make our own
reproductive and sexual decisions is fundamental to
our full social, economic and political equality.
ACCESS opposes coercive population control efforts
and views reproductive freedom, including access to
abortion, as a social justice and human rights issue.
Shailushi Baxi, MPH
Raquel Donoso, MPH
Ellen Schwerin, MPH
Andy Shie-Kee Wong
(Jennifer) Parker, MSW