April 12, 2013 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from Feministing, Ms. Magazine and more.
RAPE CULTURE: "Rehtaeh Parsons is Dead," Alexandra Brodsky, Feministing: Brodsky discusses the recent case of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, who committed suicide last week, about 17 months after she allegedly was raped by four boys, including one who circulated photos of the attack throughout her school and community. "When she most needed community support, she was bullied and propositioned instead," Brodsky writes, adding that the police took a year to investigate the assault and ultimately did not press charges against those involved. "Survivor support is crucial, and undoubtedly the vicious bullying Parsons was subject to after her rape drove her to such drastic measures," Brodsky continues. "[L]et's finally wake up from the delusion that we have any more time to waste. Rape culture kills," she states (Brodsky, Feministing, 4/10).
What others are saying about rape culture:
~ "Outing a Rapist," Malia Schilling, Ms. Magazine blog.
~ "This is How You Teach Rape Culture to 12-Year-Olds," Chloe Angyal, Feministing.
~ "How Justice is Denied to Military Women," Susan Milligan, U.S. News & World Report.
~ "Are You Bro-Choice?" Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones.
EQUAL PAY DAY: "It's Equal Pay Day: Pay Equity Is a Reproductive Justice Issue," Erin Matson, RH Reality Check: Equal Pay Day -- marked on April 9 -- "represents how far into the year the average U.S. woman must work before she is paid the same amount as the average U.S. man," writes Matson, who explains the connection between pay equity and reproductive justice. She writes that the wage gap "is intimately tied up with a societal lack of respect for women's bodies, women as parents ... and women's reproductive health." Pay inequality makes it difficult for women to access medical care during pregnancy, avoid pregnancy by using contraception, obtain abortions and raise children in safe and healthy environments (Matson, RH Reality Check, 4/9).
What others are saying about Equal Pay Day:
~ "Three Important Ways That Equal Pay is Connected to Reproductive Health," Heidi Williamson, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress."
PRESIDENT'S BUDGET: "Women Not on the Priority List: President Obama's Budget, Congress, and the Struggle for Affordable Abortion Care," Morgan Meneses-Sheets, RH Reality Check: "Reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates were pleased to see that [Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal] included language allowing the District of Columbia to use its own funds to cover abortion for low-income women through their Medicaid program," as well as "abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in cases of rape and incest," Meneses-Sheets writes. But, "[s]adly, the president's budget continued to withhold coverage for women who use benefits through federal health programs, including federal employees and their dependents, women in federal prisons, Native American women who access care through Indian Health Services, and low-income women with coverage through the federal Medicaid program," Meneses-Sheets adds. She continues, "It is often said that a budget is a statement of priorities. ... Women should matter. Access to safe medical care should matter" (Meneses-Sheets, RH Reality Check, 4/11).
What others are saying about the president's budget:
~ "Reproductive Rights and Yesterday's Budget Release," Sarah Lipton-Lubet, American Civil Liberties Union's "Washington Markup."
~ "The President's New Budget is a Small Step Forward in Restoring Women's Abortion Rights," Jessica Arons, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
IMMIGRATION REFORM: "Immigration Reform: Good for Immigrant Women, Good for American Feminism," Pramila Jayapal, The Nation: "Immigration policy really is about women," Jayapal writes, noting, "Two-thirds of immigrants to America are women and children." She continues, "[W]e need a stronger and broader women's movement if we are going to make strides forward instead of falling back," adding, "We need strength to fight the challenges to our reproductive rights and the defunding of Planned Parenthood." Jayapal urges advocates to "raise immigration reform as a women's issue," concluding, "It's time to stand shoulder to shoulder as women to demand our full place at the table and an immigration system that works for us" (Jayapal, The Nation, 4/9).
What others are saying about immigration reform:
~ "Immigration Policy Reform Can't Ignore Women," Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Immigration and Women This Week: Mixed Emotions," Juliana Britto Schwartz, Feministing.
REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE: "My Right To Choose My Daughter Made Me the Confident Woman I Am Today," Gloria Malone, RH Reality Check: At age 15, "I went from being a powerless pregnant teen to a pregnant woman who had the ability to choose my own life's fate by choosing what to do with my pregnancy," Malone writes, adding that before that point, the "lack of voicing my opinion during my upbringing, combined with proven ineffective sexual education, did not equip me with the knowledge to challenge things I did not like or feel comfortable with." Malone -- who supports abortion-rights -- chose to continue the pregnancy, a decision she notes is perplexing to "anti-choicer[s]." She explains, "By exercising the choice that all women have as a natural and constitutional right, I was able to finally feel some sense of control over my life," adding, "If I did not have [the] ability to choose, I would not be the confident woman or mother I am today" (Malone, RH Reality Check, 4/10).
CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE RULES: "For-Profit Companies Suing Over Birth Control Benefit Aren't Exempt From Corporate Obligations," Imani Gandy, RH Reality Check: At least 18 for-profit companies have challenged the federal contraceptive coverage requirement, arguing that providing health plans that cover birth control would "violate the religious conscience not just of the owners and operators of the companies, but of the companies themselves -- as if the organizations are sentient beings," Gandy writes. She argues that these companies "are stretching the bounds of credulity with their religious freedom claims." She notes that the U.S. Supreme Court previously established in U.S. v. Lee that "followers of particular sects are not entitled to special treatment" in the commercial sphere. She writes that the "bottom line is: If you're a religious individual, and you freely decide to enter the marketplace so that you can make money, and you hire people of all faiths, then you have to leave your religious baggage behind and follow the same rules that apply to everyone else" (Gandy, RH Reality Check, 4/10).
What others are saying about the contraceptive coverage rules:
~ "Birth Control: A Game Changer for Women," Lipton-Lubet, American Civil Liberties Union's "Washington Markup."
~ "Employers Shouldn't Be Allowed To Deny Contraceptive Coverage to Their Employees," Melissa Torres-Montoya, Raising Women's Voices blog.
~ "Nearly 350,000 are On Record Supporting the Birth Control Benefit," Jacqueline Murphy, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's "Women Are Watching."
STATE ATTACKS ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: "In Just Three Months, States Proposed an Astonishing 694 Provisions About Reproduction," Annie-Rose Strasser, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress": During the first quarter of 2013, states proposed 694 provisions related to women's reproductive health, according to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute, Strasser writes. She notes that 47% of the measures were directly related to abortion, including seven states that are "edging closer to achieving full approval for laws that would reduce or essentially eliminate abortion access." She continues, "Enforcing unconstitutional abortion laws isn't just a threat to women's rights -- it's also costly to the states caught up in legal battles." For instance, North Dakota is considering authorizing $400,000 to defend a newly enacted abortion ban. However, the "upside" of the report is that more states "are moving toward the prevention of unintended pregnancy through sex education," Strasser writes (Strasser, "Think Progress," Center for American Progress, 4/11).
What others are saying about state attacks on reproductive health:
~ "On Abortion, the GOP Tacks Right," Abby Rapoport, American Prospect.