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Blogs Comment on Senate Antiabortion Bill, Workplace Protections for Breastfeeding Moms, Judicial Nominees, More

Blogs Comment on Senate Antiabortion Bill, Workplace Protections for Breastfeeding Moms, Judicial Nominees, More

November 8, 2013 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from National Women's Law Center, Slate and more.

BREASTFEEDING: "Fair Treatment for Breastfeeding Moms," Cortelyou Kenney, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake": Although the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was signed into law 35 years ago, "pregnancy is still used as an excuse to push women out of work," including when they are breastfeeding, writes Kenney, a legal projects fellow at NWLC. She shares the story of a woman named Bobbi Bockoras, a breastfeeding mother who was harassed and forced to pump in filthy conditions after she requested a place to pump during her shift. Kenney writes, "Luckily for Bobbi, both the Affordable Care Act [PL 111-148] and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act contain protections for lactating mothers," including requirements that employers provide breastfeeding women break time and clean spaces to pump and bar "retaliation against workers who exercise this right." She adds, "Courts have held that lactation is a pregnancy-related condition -- which means that an employer has a duty to accommodate a lactating employee if it accommodates an individual who is or was similarly limited by, for example, a medical condition like diabetes" (Kenney, "Womenstake," NWLC, 11/7).

What others are saying about breastfeeding:

~ "Employer Allegedly Makes Breastfeeding Mother Pump on the Floor, Surrounded by Dead Bugs," Katy Waldman, Slate's "XX Factor."

~ "Guides to Breastfeeding and Working," Rachel Walden, Our Bodies Ourselves' "Our Bodies, Our Blog."

ABORTION BANS: "As GOP Tries To Win Back Women's Support, Senate Republicans Introduce a National Abortion Ban," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday "officially introduced a national measure [S 1670] to criminalize abortion procedures after 20 weeks," Culp-Ressler writes, adding that the bill was introduced "just two days after" the GOP lost the Virginia gubernatorial race, "a political battle that largely centered on women's issues." She notes that the GOP "has acknowledged it needs to better market itself to female voters," especially after "winning over women proved to be an issue for Republicans in the 2012 election." However, that aim "hasn't deterred Graham and his two male colleagues from pursuing their anti-abortion agenda," Culp-Ressler writes. She cites a poll conducted last month that found "women believe the GOP has drifted even further away from the issues they care about," adding that separate polls have also demonstrated most people do not support a 20-week abortion ban "when they have more context about individual women's personal situations" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 11/7).

What others are saying about abortion bans:

~ "Albuquerque is Newest Front in War on Abortion," Melissa McGlensey, Ms. Magazine blog.

~ "A Giant Anti-Abortion Truck Is Driving Around Albuquerque To Drum Up Support for a 20-Week Ban," Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress.

JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS: "Can You Be Openly Pro-Choice and a Federal Judge? We'll Find Out Next Week," Ian Millhiser, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "If you're pro-choice, and you've openly admitted that fact, you probably shouldn't plan on becoming a federal judge," Millhiser writes, referring to the likely filibuster against the nomination of Georgetown Law professor Nina Pillard -- a proponent of abortion-rights -- to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. He writes that Pillard "is one of three nominees caught in a larger battle over which party will control" the court. "Yet, despite the Senate GOP's generalized opposition to losing the Republican majority on a powerful court ... it is clear that the lion's share of Senate Republicans would oppose Pillard even if she were nominated to a court they were not determined to keep in Republican hands, and that they oppose her specifically because of her views on reproductive choice," Millhiser continues. He concludes that "the future looks grim for pro-choice judges. Why would any president nominate another judge who's championed reproductive freedom again, when he or she knows the nomination will always fall to a filibuster?" (Millhiser, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 11/7).

HOSPITAL MERGERS: "Washington State Rule Would Require Hospitals To Disclose Reproductive Health-Care Services," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: A proposed rule in Washington state could change hospital disclosure laws and "require public disclosure of policies concerning reproductive health and end-of-life care," writes Wilson, who adds that "hospitals claim creating a list of [such services] would be too complex and potentially misleading." He explains, "Behind the push for disclosure requirements are concerns about the ethical religious directives of religiously affiliated hospitals" -- namely, Catholic hospitals -- that are increasingly merging with secular hospitals. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington Executive Director Rachel Berkson said Catholic directives at such hospitals "prevent access to contraception, reproductive health care, end-of-life care, and [create] issues surrounding the treatment of LGBT families." Wilson notes a hearing on the proposed rule is set for Nov. 26 (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 11/6).

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "Gillibrand Starts Final Push To Reform Military Sexual Assault Prosecutions," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: On Wednesday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) "kicked off a final two-week push" in her effort "to remove prosecution of sexual assault and other serious civilian crimes from the military chain of command" through an amendment to the 2014 defense authorization bill, Crockett writes. Gillibrand has said 46 senators have publicly backed the bill, and "she is confident about reaching the 60 votes needed to break a possible filibuster," Crockett adds. She highlights testimony from a married couple, Ariana and Ben Klay, both former Marines, about the harassment, obstruction and lack of a fair trial Ariana received when she reported a sexual result (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 11/7).

What others are saying about violence against women:

~ "Battle for Veterans' Disability Benefits: VA Discrimination Against Survivors of Military Sexual Violence," Sandra Park, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights."

~ "Rape in the Ranks," Dorothy Samuels, New York Times' "Taking Note."

MATERNITY CARE: "Men Should Pay for Maternity Care Because BABIES," Jessica Grose, Slate's "XX Factor": Although the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) prohibits insurance companies from charging women more than men simply based on their sex, Republicans are arguing that "it's unfair that men are subsidizing services, specifically maternity care, that they will never use," Grose writes. She argues that "even if you don't care at all about the women bearing the children, you should care about the live human babies that are going to be born regardless of whether their mothers get adequate prenatal care." Grose explains, "When women don't get adequate prenatal care," potential pregnancy-related complications "don't get caught and potentially prevented, which is why babies born to mothers who are low-income and uneducated are more likely to have low birth weight, which can lead to infant health problems" and increase treatment costs. She adds, "This is one moment where the cliché 'think of the children!' actually applies" (Grose, "XX Factor," Slate, 11/6).