January 7, 2014 — 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, Salon and more.
CONTRACEPTION: "5 Things To Know About the Cases Brought by Non-Profits With Religious Objections to Insurance Coverage for Birth Control," Hillary Schneller, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake": Schneller outlines five key facts about how the contraceptive coverage rules accommodate religiously affiliated not-for-profits. Noting that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor recently granted Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged and a select group of other not-for-profits a temporary injunction "while [Sotomayor] considers the government's response," Schneller explains the accommodation ensures that a religiously affiliated not-for-profit "does not have to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for" employees' contraceptive coverage, as long as the organization signs a certification form stating its religious objection to birth control. The insurance company or third party administrator then handles the coverage. Schneller adds that in "this particular case," the Little Sisters use a self-insured church plan that "is exempt from certain provisions used to enforce the accommodation," which means its employees will not receive contraceptive coverage "whether the organizations sign the form or not." Schneller writes that employees "shouldn't be denied birth control coverage because they work for a non-profit that objects to filling out a form in which it states its objection to birth control" (Schneller, "Womenstake," NWLC, 1/6).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "Biblical Birth Control: The Surprisingly Contraception-Friendly Old Testament," Elissa Strauss, Salon.
~ "'Thanks, Birth Control!' Postcard Campaign is an Amazing Tribute to Safe Sex," Nina Bahadur, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Analysis: The Little Sisters Case and EBSA Form 700," Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "More Abortion Restrictions Were Enacted From 2011 to 2013 Than in the Entire Previous Decade," Rachel Benson Gold/Elizabeth Nash, RH Reality Check: In 2013, "39 states enacted 141 provisions related to reproductive health and rights," about half of which "sought to restrict access to abortion services," the Guttmacher Institute's Gold and Nash write, adding, "This makes 2013 second only to 2011 in the number of new abortion restrictions enacted in a single year." They note that four states -- Arkansas, North Carolina, North Dakota and Texas -- "were key" in the increase in abortion restrictions, accounting for 26 of the 70 such laws approved in 2013. "Against this backdrop, it is particularly noteworthy that California" and Colorado passed laws supporting women's access to abortion services, Gold and Nash write. They also note that several states passed legislation relating to family planning, sex education and violence against women (Gold/Nash, RH Reality Check, 1/6).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Latest Abortion Hypocrisy: Saving Women's Lives is Apparently 'Controversial,'" Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon.
ABORTION-RIGHTS LITIGATION: "Fifth Circuit Judges Hear Arguments on Texas' Omnibus Anti-Abortion Law," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: "Texas' omnibus anti-abortion law made a stop Monday in a New Orleans federal appeals court, where a three-judge panel heard arguments on whether the state can require abortion-providing doctors to secure admitting privileges at local hospitals and severely restrict the prescription of medication abortions," Grimes writes. She notes that the "law is expected, eventually, to make its way to the Supreme Court." After the hearing, Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Janet Crepps noted that the plaintiffs could face a tough legal fight because two of the three judges hearing the case previously overturned a lower court's injunction against the measure. Grimes adds that Crepps expects the court to issue a ruling within weeks, after which the losing party would have the option to appeal to the Supreme Court (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 1/6).
What others are saying about abortion-rights litigation:
~ "Nightmare Federal Appeals Court Panel To Hear Texas Abortion Case Today," Ian Millhiser, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "SCOTUS for Law Students: Abortion's Time is Coming," Stephen Wermiel, SCOTUSblog.
PREGNANT WOMEN'S RIGHTS AND CARE: "Texas Family Describes 'Pure Hell' of Being Forced To Keep Their Loved One on Life Support," Katie McDonough, Salon: Marlise Munoz, a pregnant woman in Texas, collapsed in November and has since been declared brain-dead and placed on life support, McDonough writes, adding that Munoz's "husband and parents desperately want to honor her end-of-life directive and remove her from life support, but the state of Texas won't allow them to do it" because of the pregnancy. McDonough writes that "Texas law requires that [Munoz] remain on life support to 'sustain' the pregnancy -- regardless of her end-of-life directive, her family's wishes and the viability of the fetus." The situation has caused the family "prolonged grief and heartache," which they describe as "'pure hell,'" McDonough writes, adding that they are "currently challenging the law so 'no pregnant woman and her family have to go through what [they] have to go through'" (McDonough, Salon, 1/6).
What others are saying about pregnant women's rights and care:
~ "My Story of Pregnancy and Addiction," Kari Rinker, RH Reality Check.
~ "How To Fix the 'Travesty' of U.S. Maternity Care -- and Ensure Women Have a Full Range of Choices," Anna Fett, Our Bodies Ourselves' "Our Bodies, Our Blog."
CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTERS: "As Abortion Providers Are Under Attack, Fake Anti-Choice Clinics Are Gaining Ground," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "As dozens of abortion clinics across Texas have been forced to halt their services in the wake of a stringent new anti-choice law that took effect in November," crisis pregnancy centers, which "typically actively mislead patients about the nature of their facilities ... and sometimes falsely advertise abortion services that they don't actually provide," have remained very active in the state, Culp-Ressler writes. She notes that CPCs are "an especially attractive option for the low-income women who struggle to afford health services," because the centers offer no-cost pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, although they do not provide birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections or abortion services. "[T]here are no regulations governing CPCs," so, effectively, "anyone can start operating one," according to Culp-Ressler, who adds that they are not "viable alternatives to real clinics" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 1/2).