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Meet the HR3 Ten: Collin Peterson, An Original Blue Dog

8:46 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Sarah Jaffe for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Ten Democrats cosponsored H.R.3, even with language redefining rape; four of those ten also apparently don’t care if pregnant women die. Sarah Jaffe takes a closer look at all ten, find all posted to date here.

Meet Collin Peterson. He’s from the great state of Minnesota, the one that brought you such great progressives as Paul Wellstone and currently boasts Keith Ellison, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken in its Congressional delegation. Of course, it also has Michele Bachmann.

Collin Peterson is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3 and voted to defund Planned Parenthood and other Title X healthcare providers. 

Peterson’s 7th district is next to Bachmann’s, in the northwestern part of the state, and covers a lot of ground–right up to the Canadian border.  It’s Minnesota’s most rural district, and Peterson’s support reflects that. His support has come largely from the agriculture industries–$804,597 from crop production & processing companies and $489,664 from agricultural services or products. 

Proudly prochoice senator Amy Klobuchar carried Peterson’s district in 2006, though it went mostly to Republican Norm Coleman in 2008. So it’s certainly possible for those voters to support a prochoice candidate, and one would assume that a concern for women’s rights isn’t a completely terrible thing in that part of the state. … Read more

Sen. Franken: Rape Victims Should Not Have To Pay for Their Own Rape Kits

8:17 am in Government, Legislature by RH Reality Check

Written by Robin Marty for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Minnesota Senator Al Franken has spent his time in office as a staunch advocate for women’s reproductive health.  In the fall of 2009, Sen. Franken sponsored an amendment to a defense bill that would have de-funded military contractors who prevent rape victims from seeking justice, based on the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, who was sexually attacked while working for KBR – a subsidiary of Halliburton.

Now, the Minnesota Democrat is once more taking up the cause for women who have been victims of sexual assault.  Last week, Sen. Franken spoke in front of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs about the backlog of rape kits going unaddressed in police storage, and the practice of making victims pay for their own forensic evidence.

The problem is that some jurisdictions are still billing victims for the rape kits, leaving it to the victims to get reimbursed by insurers or victims’ funds. And with that objection, Mr. Chairman, I would like to add to the record four articles…that document this."

To me, the real problem is that this practice is actually legal under federal law.  It is legal to bill a victim for her rape kit….Can you elaborate on this?  Is it a good idea to allow victims to be billed for their rape kits, even if they get fully reimbursed later?

Sen. Franken brings up an additional issue as to the billing of rape kits to victims, even if they are reimbursed by insurance: that an insurance claim being sent to someone’s home could violate her privacy by informing the family, spouse or other residents about the rape, something about which the victim may not have wanted them to be made aware.

Susan Carbon, the Director of the Office of Violence Against Women, responds to that problem as well as others rape kit issues in her own testimony.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Pawlenty’s Executive Order Puts Politics Before Lives

6:48 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Sarah Stoesz for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty landed three punches to the people of the state this week.

First he rejected federal funding for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), which would have provided nearly $1 million in federal funding to the state for comprehensive sex education.

At the same time, he accepted federal monies for abstinence-only initiatives.

On Tuesday, he released an Executive Order barring state agencies from submitting any applications to the federal government in connection with requests for grant funding for programs and projects connected with the federal health care reform bill.

The effect is to deny people access to $1 billion in desperately needed health-care dollars, including nearly $1 million in teen pregnancy and STI prevention dollars, while bringing in $500,000 (with $379,000 required from the state) for failed abstinence-only programs.

You can do the math, but you can’t begin to calculate the damage.

Governor Pawlenty’s executive order could close the door to more than 100 federal health care grants that would fund myriad vitally important projects, including teen pregnancy prevention; postpartum care for new mothers; maternal, infant and early childhood home visitation programs; childhood obesity prevention, and tighter regulation of insurance companies, just to name a few.

Among the victims would be the elderly, teens, both the poor and middle class, those in high-risk insurance groups, rural Minnesotans, the mentally ill, new moms and newborns.

Minnesota needs these health care dollars. Earlier this year, the state Health Department released new figures indicating an alarming increase in HIV infections among young Minnesotans. The number of new cases increased by 13 percent in 2009, marking a 17-year high. This news came on the heels of annual increases in the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) over the past decade. Chlamydia, for example, is now the No. 1 reported communicable disease in the state. Read the full report here.

Studies show that nearly half of all Minnesota teens are sexually active by their senior year. It’s not fiscally sound or morally responsible to deny these teens the information they need to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of infections that can lead to infertility and chronic illness.

Instead of addressing these problems, Pawlenty is focusing on advancing his personal presidential ambitions. For the past eight years, we’ve seen Minnesota lose its pioneering edge and move to the back of the line. Sadly, the steepest price for Pawlenty’s political gamesmanship will be paid by Minnesota’s young people.

Pawlenty’s Budget Slashes Family Planning Funds

9:03 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

The budget proposed Tuesday by Gov. Tim Pawlenty would cut $2 million from the Family Planning Special Projects (FPSP), a grant program that funds health departments, nonprofits and tribal governments that provide family planning services to low-income Minnesotans. The cut amounts to a 20 percent reduction.

“All women, regardless of economic status, must have the same opportunity to access health care, plan and space healthy pregnancies,” said Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “Strong family planning is good health care policy, good public policy and makes good sense from both a fiscal and a social perspective.”

“As more and more Minnesota families lose jobs and insurance coverage, the governor should not stand between some of the most economically challenged women in the state and the health care they need to build stronger futures,” she said.

Family planning grants total $4.2 million a year.

Pawlenty says the programs can be cut because Minnesota has qualified for a Medicaid family planning program. “With the anticipated growth in persons receiving services through [Medicaid's] Family Planning Waiver, the reduction of Family Planning Special Project grant funds is not anticipated to have an impact Read the rest of this entry →