National Partnership for Women & Families

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Editorial, Opinion Pieces Comment on Reproductive Health and Rights

Editorial, Opinion Pieces Comment on Reproductive Health and Rights

January 2, 2014— The New York Times and Washington Post recently published editorials and opinion pieces on women's health issues. Summaries appear below.

~ New York Times: There "is no breach of religious freedom, nor any undue burden involved" in requiring religiously affiliated employers that object to providing contraceptive coverage to "send a short form to their insurance administrator, which takes care of the coverage," a Times editorial argues in response to a federal judge's ruling "in favor of two high schools and two health care systems affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York." According to the editorial, the judge "decided that even filing a form is too much to ask" and erred in ruling that the government violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (PL 103-141). It concludes, "What [the judge] missed, and the [Supreme Court] justices need to recognize, is the threat to religious liberty comes from employers trying to impose their religious views on workers" (New York Times, 12/25/13).

~ Gilbert Welch, New York Times: While an online survey published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that most middle-aged Americans have been screened for breast or prostate cancer, the research also "found that about half said they would not choose to start screening if the test resulted in more than one overtreated person per one cancer death averted," writes Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. He continues, "That implies that millions of Americans might choose not to be screened if they knew the whole story -- that overtreatment is typically more common than avoiding a cancer death." Welch also writes that "how Americans feel about screening is obviously related to what they are told about screening." He highlights a new JAMA Internal Medicine study by himself and a colleague that attempts to provide women with "some quantification of the benefits and harms" with regard to screening mammography (Welch, New York Times, 12/29/13).

~ Rachel Natelson, Washington Post: In a letter to the editor, Natelson, the former legal director for the Service Women's Action Network and a current member of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, responds to a Post article reporting on Congress' efforts to address sexual assault in the military. Natelson writes that while the congressional actions are "a symbolic step forward, the current round of military justice reforms are hardly 'the most extensive rewrite of the Uniform Code of Military Justice since the armed forces were integrated,' as some would have it." She continues, "In fact, without corresponding changes to the prosecutorial process, they either reiterate existing policies or bear unintended consequences for victims" (Natelson, Washington Post, 12/26).