January 24, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from Slate, ACLU and more.
PREGNANT WOMEN'S RIGHTS: "Brain-Dead Marlise Munoz's Fetus is 'Distinctly Abnormal.' Please, Texas, Let This Nightmare End," Emily Bazelon, Slate' s "XX Factor": "[S]omehow, despite her family's wishes, Marlise Munoz's body is being kept on life support because it is still host to a fetus, now at about 22 weeks, that [her husband's] lawyers say has fluid building up inside the skull, a possible heart problem, and lower extremities 'deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined,'" writes Bazelon. She adds that the hospital should not be able to "supersede the wishes of" Munoz's husband, Erick Munoz, because the Texas law at the center of the case -- which bars hospitals from withdrawing "life-sustaining treatment" from pregnant patients -- does not pertain to patients such as Marlise Munoz, who is "legally dead." Bazelon notes the Erick Munoz has sued the hospital, adding that the court should "give Erick the right to respect his wife's wishes" before the fetus reaches the point of viability, "which will make the situation much more difficult" (Bazelon, "XX Factor," Slate, 1/23).
What others are saying about pregnant women's rights:
~ "End Near for Shackling of Pregnant Women," Joanne Lin, American Civil Liberties Union's "Washington Markup."
~ "He Signed It! New Jersey Expands Protection for Pregnant Workers," Lauren Khouri, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Eric Cantor Announces Anti-Choice House Vote at March for Life," Adele Stan, RH Reality Check: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) "did not disappoint his audience" at the annual March for Life, when he drew "big cheers with his promise of a floor vote ... next week on HR 7, a sweeping anti-choice bill that would, among other things, create tax penalties on some who use their own funds to pay for abortions," Stan writes. She notes that opponents of the measure take issue with the bill's name -- the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act -- "since taxpayer funding for abortion has long been prohibited under the Hyde Amendment and related measures." She explains, "Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and other pro-choice members of the House contend that with its complicated tax-code penalties on both individuals and small businesses who purchase health insurance that includes abortion coverage, the ultimate aim of the bill is to make it difficult for insurance companies to provide abortion coverage, a fairly standard part of insurance plans, at all" (Stan, RH Reality Check, 1/22).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "All Women Deserve Access to Abortion," Kelli Garcia, NWLC's "Womenstake."
~ "The Next Battleground for Reproductive Rights: Maintaining Insurance Coverage for Abortion," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
RELIGION: "U.S. Bishops' 15-Year Battle for 'Conscience' and Against Contraception," Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches : "Catholic bishops have been waging a nearly fifteen-year campaign to position any effort to expand access to contraception as an assault on religious freedom," Miller writes, adding, "By the time the Obama administration rolled out its contraceptive mandate, it ran headfirst into a 'conscience' narrative that the bishops had been constructing for more than a decade: that it was a violation of an individual's religious liberty, or an employer['s], to not allow them to decide what health services other people could and couldn't get in an insurance plan." She argues, "The ultimate goal of this narrative is to re-marginalize contraception, much as abortion has been marginalized and segregated from the continuum of women's health care" (Miller, Religion Dispatches, 1/22).
What others are saying about religion:
~ "The President and the Pope: What Will They Talk About?" Mary Curtis, Washington Post's "She The People."
CONTRACEPTION: "Do Not Fear Your Birth Control," Jessica Grose, Slate 's "XX Factor": Grose criticizes what she calls "the birth control scare story," citing a recent article posted on Cosmopolitan's website "about women who have had bad experiences with a form of sterilization -- not exactly birth control -- called Essure." Grose interviews Petra Casey, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mayo Clinic, who emphasizes that there are advantages and disadvantages to all birth control methods and that women's doctors can help explain the relative risks in context. Casey also notes that many ob-gyns are shifting away from the birth control pill as their primary recommendation and toward long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as intrauterine devices. Grose urges readers not to "freak out the next time you read a story that is selling fear about birth control," concluding, "And if you're scared, go to your doctor, not to Cosmo" (Grose, "XX Factor," Slate, 1/22).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "The GOP's Birth-Control Trojan Horse," Amanda Marcotte, Daily Beast.
ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY: "41 Years After Roe v. Wade, Here are a Few Reminders of What Abortion is Not," Robin Marty, Care2: This week's 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision "should serve as a reminder for anti-choice legislat[ors]: abortion is a legal right," Marty writes. She notes that while some states' "politicians have been all too willing to" enact more abortion restrictions, it is important to remember "what abortion is not." Citing examples from various states, Marty explains why "[a]bortion is not a form of domestic violence," does not make "motorcycle riding dangerous," "does not cause preterm birth," "is not a state budgetary line item," and is not "a child homicide." Marty concludes, "Abortion is not a circus" (Marty, Care2, 1/22).
What others are saying about the Roe anniversary:
~ "More Than Four Decades After Roe v. Wade, What Stories are We Telling About Abortion?" Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "Opinions About Abortion Haven't Changed Since Roe v. Wade," Karlyn Bowman/Jennifer Marsico, The Atlantic.
~ "Protecting Access to Women's Health, 41 Years After Roe v. Wade," Sue Dunlap, Huffington Post blogs.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE: "Obama Launches Initiative To Combat Rape: 'I Want Every Young Man To Feel Some Strong Peer Pressure,'" Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Earlier this week, "President Obama announced a new White House initiative ... to address sexual violence," while "specifically emphasiz[ing] the sexual assault crisis on college campuses," Culp-Ressler notes, adding that Obama "won praise from progressive activists for framing the issue without resorting to victim-blaming" and instead focusing on "the ways in which rapists are primarily responsible for preventing rape." Overall, "[s]exual assault prevention groups welcomed the president's new initiative," she writes. Tracey Vitchers, communications coordinator for Students Active for Ending Rape, noted that it is also "important to push for inclusive policies to combat sexual violence that also take into account male and LGBT students, who are certainly also at risk for assault," instead of primarily focusing on young women (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 1/22).
What others are saying about sexual violence:
~ "Obama to Sexual Assault Survivors: 'I've Got Your Back,'" Shayne Larkin, NWLC's "Womenstake."
~ "Changing Rape Culture Starts With Changing Rape Laws," Mindy Townsend, Care2.
~ "Village Elders in India Order Gang-Rape To Punish Woman for Dating a Muslim Man," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
ABORTION IN THE MEDIA: "Why 2014 Should Be the Year We Talk About Abortion on TV," Laura Stampler, Time: "Abortion might be a fundamental plotpoint on the political stage -- there were more state abortion restrictions passed in the last three years than in the previous decade and it's slated to be a big ticket issue in the midterm race -- [but] it has almost been erased from TV," writes Stampler, who speaks with "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes about the decision to include a character's abortion decision in the plot. Stampler notes that, "according to the Guttmacher Institute, more than half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended and some 22% of all pregnancies (not including miscarriages) end in termination." She concludes, "In an ideal world, television reflects real life" and should at least "touch upon real-life issues," but yet "most accidently impregnated characters, even young women who have only lived in a post Roe v. Wade world, don't bring up or even briefly consider the option of an abortion" (Stampler, Time, 1/23).