April 5, 2013 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from the New York Times, The Nation and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS IN NORTH DAKOTA: "Outlawing Abortion Won't Help Children with Down Syndrome," Alison Piepmeier, New York Times' "Motherlode": Piepmeier -- whose daughter has Down syndrome -- discusses recently enacted legislation (HB 1305) that made North Dakota the first state to prohibit abortions when the fetus has genetic defects. She writes that while it is "troubling ... that rates of termination for pregnancies where Down syndrome is identified are extremely high," legislation "outlawing abortion is not a reasonable response to this situation." In interviewing women for her book on prenatal testing, Piepmeier found that many who chose abortion felt it "was an incredibly painful decision" but "recognized that the world is a difficult place for people with intellectual disabilities." Rather than banning abortions, North Dakota lawmakers "should make the state a welcoming place for people with disabilities," she writes, concluding, "Let women have abortions for whatever reason they choose, but make it a world they would like to bring a child into -- even a child with an intellectual disability" (Piepmeier, "Motherlode," New York Times, 4/1).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions in North Dakota:
~ "Why is North Dakota Torturing Women?" Jessica Valenti, The Nation.
~ "North Dakota's Only Abortion Clinic Isn't Going Anywhere," Sarah Kliff, Washington Post's "Wonkblog."
~ "North Dakota Governor Justifies Abortion Bills, Local Activist Tries To Get Public Vote on Bans," Robin Marty, RH Reality Check.
~ "North Dakota's Ban is a Bad Way To Stop Selective Abortion," Amy Julia Becker, The Atlantic.
TRAP LAWS: "Seven States Working Hard To Shut Down Abortion Clinics," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress": Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers -- or TRAP -- laws "represent one of the most serious threats to reproductive rights in the nation," Culp-Ressler writes. "Under the guise of 'protecting women's safety,' Republican lawmakers are successfully pushing unnecessary, complicated restrictions on abortion clinics that will ultimately force them to close their doors," she explains. She highlights efforts to "undermine women's right to legal abortion services" in Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia that could affect abortion clinic operations (Culp-Ressler, "Think Progress," Center for American Progress, 4/3).
ADOLESCENT HEALTH: "Vagina is an 'Inappropriate' Word, and Other Ridiculous Tales from the World of Sex Ed," Martha Kempner, RH Reality Check: "[E]ven though it is 2013 and references to sex are everywhere, sex education teachers across the country continue to get in trouble for the topics they cover, the information they teach, and the language they use," Kempner writes. The latest controversy involves a science teacher in Idaho who used the word vagina during a human reproduction lesson in a class for high school sophomores. Although disputes over "medically accurate terms for body parts, like vagina, are not common, the other topics -- condoms, oral sex, anal sex, and same-sex relationships -- may be the third rail of sex education, as they are frequently at the center of debates," Kempner writes. "Whether parents want to believe it or not, ... these are behaviors that many teens engage in, and as such students need to learn about them and learn how to make them safer," she points out (Kempner, RH Reality Check, 4/4).
What others are saying about adolescent health:
~ "Lessons in Denial: A Student Perspective on High School Health Class," Hanna Pennington, Our Bodies, Our Blog.
ABORTION STIGMA: "Nevada Lawmaker Receives Death Threats After Talking About Her Abortion," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": During testimony in support of proposed legislation (AB 230) that would require more comprehensive sex education in Nevada's public schools, state Assembly member Lucy Flores (D) shared "her own personal story about the consequences of inadequate sex ed -- all of her sisters became teenage mothers, and Flores herself decided to have an abortion when she became pregnant at 16," Culp-Ressler writes. Flores "faced some serious repercussions" -- including death threats -- "for her honesty about her own experience," Culp-Ressler reports. "Even though one in three U.S. women has had an abortion by the time she is 45 years old, pervasive stigma surrounding the topic prevents the vast majority of those women from feeling safe enough to talk about it," she adds, noting that "some women's health advocates insist that more people need to follow in Flores' footsteps and speak up about their own abortion stories -- including women of all walks of life, as well as the men whose partners have chosen an abortion" (Culp-Ressler, "Think Progress," Center for American Progress, 4/4).
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "Teach Your Children Well: Men Must Be Leaders in Changing the Culture of Abuse," Donald McPherson, RH Reality Check: McPherson discusses responses to the recent convictions in a rape case involving high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio. "[W]e must resist lamenting the future of the perpetrators and consider their past if we are to make sense of this case and prevent it from happening again," he writes, adding, "We must be honest in our recognition of the culture in which ... we continue to teach boys that girls and women are 'less than.'" He goes on to highlight Breakthrough's Ring the Bell campaign to end violence against women. "If enough men teach enough boys to do the right thing, next time, maybe it'll be the football team that helps prevent the rape," he writes (McPherson, RH Reality Check, 4/2).
What others are saying about violence against women:
~ "Sequester About To Make Domestic Violence Crisis Worse," Jessica Pieklo, Care2.
~ "As India Struggles To Address Sexual Violence, Female Tourists Stop Visiting," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress."
~ "What's the Connection (If Any) Between Adolescent Drinking and Rape and Violence?" Marianne Møllmann, RH Reality Check.
~ "Four Men Assaulted Me, But All I Could Think About Was a Woman's Nasty Email," Amanda Erickson, Slate's "XX Factor."
~ "You Know At Least One Victim of Sexual Assault," Colleen Westendorf, Huffington Post blogs.
SOUTH WIND WOMEN'S CENTER: "Why South Wind Women's Center Matters," Sarah Erdreich, Feminists for Choice: The opening of a Wichita, Kan., women's health center in the same facility that once housed abortion provider George Tiller's practice has "garnered a special kind of attention," Erdreich writes. The clinic is owned by Trust Women Foundation, which was founded by Julie Burkhart -- a former colleague and friend of Tiller, who was murdered in 2009. Erdreich notes that antiabortion-rights activists have aggressively fought against the clinic's reopening, and Burkhart has said she has been stalked and received threats against her life. Such "terrifying" actions speak "to Burkhart's courage -- as well as the courage of her staff -- that they were able to open the clinic at all," Erdreich adds (Erdreich, Feminists for Choice, 4/4).
MARRIAGE EQUALITY: "Putting a Speed Limit on Change," Joe Wenke, Huffington Post blogs: "[S]ome people are arguing that the movement toward marriage equality is going too quickly," Wenke writes, asking, "But where would we be today in the struggle for freedom and equality without [Brown v. Board of Education] or Roe v. Wade?" He argues, "The answer is obvious: We would still be fighting for federal guarantees of racial equality and women's reproductive rights." While"[t]here is no appeasing bigotry, and nothing to be gained by trying," everyone has "a right to freedom and equality," including "equal protection under the law, the right to vote, an equal right to education, freedom from discrimination on any basis and full reproductive rights for women," as well as "the right to marry," Wenke writes (Wenke, Huffington Post blogs, 4/2).
What others are saying about marriage equality:
~ "Why U.S. Politicians Aren't 'Evolving' on Abortion Rights," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress."