January 14, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from the Center for American Progress, RH Reality Check and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "STUDY: Looking at an Ultrasound Doesn't Change Women's Decision To Have an Abortion," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "As anti-choice lawmakers impose increasing numbers of barriers between women and abortion, forced ultrasound laws have become a popular tactic at the state level," Culp-Ressler writes. The laws require providers to perform an ultrasound before an abortion and, in some cases, mandate that they "display and describe" the ultrasound images to the woman, she explains. Although abortion-rights "opponents claim this step is necessary" and that women might "suddenly change their mind about ending a pregnancy ... actual scientific evidence on the subject doesn't back up that claim," she writes, citing a new study finding that "the vast majority of women who seek out abortion services have already made up their mind" and that viewing "images of an ultrasound doesn't sway them" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 1/10).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Commissioners Vote Down 20-Week Abortion Ban in New Mexico County," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.
~ "Date Set in Trial Over Wisconsin Admitting Privileges Law," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
SUPREME COURT: "Court Bypasses Abortion Test Case (UPDATED)," Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog: The Supreme Court's response to "an Arizona case involving a ban [HB 2036] on abortions at twenty weeks of pregnancy" was "eagerly awaited, for two reasons: it was a test of whether the Court would relax its repeated view that states cannot flatly ban abortion in the period before a fetus could live outside the pregnant woman's body, and it was a test of whether the Justices would clear the way for state legislatures to experiment with bans on abortions at increasingly earlier stages in pregnancy," writes Denniston. However, "nothing final can be read into" the Supreme Court's decision not to review a lower court's ruling that struck down the law, "except perhaps that the [high court] is not ready to reopen the whole question about the continuing validity of its precedents on women's abortion rights," Denniston writes (Denniston, SCOTUSblog, 1/13).
What others are saying about the Supreme Court:
~ "Will the Roberts Court Respect Abortion Providers' and Patients' Right To Be Left Alone?" Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
~ "12 Horror Stories Show Why Wednesday's Big Supreme Court Abortion Case Matters," Molly Redden, Mother Jones.
~ "Supreme Court To Hear Anti-Choice Group's 'Right to Lie' Case," Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
ADOLESCENT HEALTH: "Has MTV Helped Bring Down Teen Pregnancy Rate?" Laura Stepp, Huffington Post blogs: A "very solid study" released this week suggests that one reason for the decline in teenage pregnancy "is the positive influence of some television shows -- in particular in this study, the programs 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom," according to Stepp, who argues that the findings provide additional context to the fact that the teen pregnancy rate has declined by 44% since the 1990s. "If shows like 16 and Pregnant motivate teens to think and talk seriously with their friends, partners and parents about sex and pregnancy, that's a good thing," but teens "also need encouragement," including the knowledge "that increasingly more teens like them are choosing wisely not to have sex and if they do, to protect themselves," she writes (Stepp, Huffington Post blogs, 1/13).
What others are saying about adolescent health:
~ "Mississippi, Virginia Bills Target Teen Sexuality," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check.
~ "No, Teen Mom is Not Helping To Lower Teen Birth Rates," Jessica Grose, Slate's "XX Factor."
GLOBAL ISSUES: "Married Young: The Scourge of Child Brides in South Asia," Siddharth Chatterjee, Huffington Post blogs: In South Asia, stories of child brides are "not unusual," writes Chatterjee, chief diplomat and head of Strategic Partnerships at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He notes that a United Nations Population Fund study estimated that "between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will be married before their 18th birthday, and almost 50 percent of these child brides are in South Asia." Chatterjee argues, "South Asian nations need to demonstrate political will by championing international measures ... to end the practice of child marriage." He adds, "Local and national Governments should take active steps," such as working "with community-based volunteers ... NGOs, village councils and health practitioners ... to keep track of data on child marriage, and improve community awareness of the negative consequences of these marriages, especially the health risks that come with it, and above all change mindsets" (Chatterjee, Huffington Post blogs, 1/11).
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "States Shouldn't Require Force for Rape To Count," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": "The American Law Institute is revising the Model Penal Code for the first time in more than 50 years," Marcotte writes, adding, "If they rewrite the code to define rape as having sex with a nonconsenting person, that could then help various states to revise their own laws to make it easier to convict rapists who use methods other than overt threats of violence to commit their crimes." She cites an opinion piece in The Guardian by DePaul University Law Professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, who noted that "the requirement that force or the threat of it be present to consider the act a rape continues to be a problem in prosecuting many sexual assaults," particularly those in which the rapist intimidates or verbally threatens the victim or targets individuals who have been drinking. Marcotte concludes, "Shifting focus from the victim's choices to the rapist's choices is bound to improve the conviction rate to some degree" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 1/13).
What others are saying about violence against women:
~ "Pennsylvania Considers Bill That Would Help Protect Domestic Violence Survivors From Eviction," Annamarya Scaccia, RH Reality Check.