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Blogs Comment on Importance of Female Justices, Birth Control Savings Under ACA, More

Blogs Comment on Importance of Female Justices, Birth Control Savings Under ACA, More

May 9, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from the Washington Post, RH Reality Check and more.

JUDICIARY: "Planned Parenthood: Female SCOTUS Justices are Key on Women's Health Issues," Jackie Kucinich, Washington Post's "She The People": Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards tells Kucinich that although many women have been elected to the House and Senate in recent years, the three women on the Supreme Court might have the biggest impact on women's health. Richards said that when she attended the oral arguments for Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius in March, the arguments were "completely different" from those in previous women's health cases because of the addition of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Richards said, "The entire conversation the first half hour was dominated by the women on the court and they were actually asking questions about what would be ... the impact [on] the women [a]ffected." The court is expected to release its decision late next month, Kucinich writes (Kucinich, "She The People," Washington Post, 5/6).

What others are saying about judicial issues:

~ "Obama Judicial Nominee's Record on Civil Rights Worse Than Originally Disclosed," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.

SUPPORTING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: "'The Person I Think I Ought To Be': Meet the Doctor Fighting To Save Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic," Katie McDonough, Salon: "Mississippi may soon become the first and only state in the nation without a single abortion provider," McDonough writes, noting that the "lone clinic left in the state" is Jackson Women's Health Organization, which "has long been the target of an avalanche of regulations and restrictions passed by a deeply conservative state legislature that has only gotten savvier ... in recent years." McDonough interviews physician Willie Parker, who travels from his home in Chicago to the Mississippi clinic to provide abortion care, "endur[ing] the harassment, the intimidation and the constant legal threats because there's far too much at stake if the clinic folds." Parker notes that the Rev. Martin Luther King said "that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. Sometimes we're not as far along that arc as we'd like to be, but we have the confidence that that's where we're going" (McDonough, Salon, 5/6).

What others are saying about supporting reproductive rights:

~ "Watch a Video of a Woman Getting an Abortion," Maya Dusenberry, Feministing.

CONTRACEPTION: "U.S. Women Saved $438 Million on Their Birth Control Pills Last Year," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Women in the United States saved an estimated $483 million on their out-of-pocket costs for the birth control pill, according to new data from the IMS Institute on Healthcare Informatics," Culp-Ressler writes, noting that the report ties the savings to the contraceptive coverage rules implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148). The report found an increase of 24 million birth control prescriptions being filled without a copayment in 2013, with the women filling those prescriptions saving an average of $269 each, Culp-Ressler writes. However, she notes that contrary to public assumption, women are not getting birth control "'for free'" under the ACA, but instead avoiding an "additional out-of-pocket cost" on top of a monthly premium. She writes that despite legal challenges against the law, the majority of U.S. residents support the contraceptive coverage rules, which is unsurprising given that "[n]early 100 percent of U.S. women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 5/7).

What others are saying about contraception:

~ "Catholic Health System Releases New Rules for Contraception," Frances Kissling, Religion Dispatches' "Dispatches."

~ "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."

PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH: "The U.S. is One of the Only Countries in the World Where Maternal Deaths are Rising," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Deaths related to pregnancy and childbearing have increased in the United States over the past decade, putting maternal mortality at nearly its highest rate in a quarter century, according to a new study published in The Lancet," Culp-Ressler writes, adding that the U.S. is "one of just eight countries where maternal deaths increased between 2003 and 2013." She continues, "It's not entirely clear why the United States is lagging so far behind, but researchers agree it probably reflects a lack of access to health care and a high rate of unplanned pregnancies" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 5/6).

What others are saying about pregnancy and childbirth:

~ "The Hospitals Most Likely To Give You a C-Section, Ranked," Alice Park, Time.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE: "Advocates Respond to White House Report on College Sexual Assault," Angus Johnston, RH Reality Check: Johnston writes that while the White House's recently released report on college sexual assaults "was generally welcomed by advocates for survivors of sexual assault, and much of its content has proved uncontroversial, some specific provisions of the report have been the subject of criticism." For example, "the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education ... [e]xpress[ed] 'grave and continuing concerns about campus civil liberties and the reliability, impartiality, and fundamental fairness of campus judicial proceedings for students accused of sexual harassment and assault,'" Johnston writes. Further, Johnston notes, "Not all advocates agree that more campus sexual assaults should be turned over to the courts," adding that the report "fail[s] to adequately reckon with the ways in which both the courts and campus judiciaries routinely victimize sexual assault survivors." Despite some advocates' disagreements with the report, "their analyses of the problem do share one common understanding: They all proceed from the premise that the concerns of sexual assault survivors and those of higher education are not the same ... and where they diverge it is a disastrous mistake to expect colleges to act on the basis of anything but their own institutional self-interest" (Johnston, RH Reality Check, 5/6).

What others are saying about sexual violence:

~ "White House Action on Campus Sexual Violence: For Me, It's Personal," Wagatwe Wanjuki, American Prospect.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Report: Total Abortion Coverage Ban Hurts Peace Corps Volunteers (Updated)," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: Crockett writes that a report released Monday in coordination "with a lobbying effort on Capitol Hill" highlights the need to change a federal policy that does not give "Peace Corps volunteers ... coverage for abortion care under any circumstance, including rape, incest, and life endangerment, which is a restriction that no other federal employees face." The report, based on interviews with volunteers, details the risks and financial consequences volunteers face because of this lack of coverage. Crockett notes that Peace Corps Equality Act would extend some abortion coverage to Peace Corps volunteers, similar to the coverage for federal employees (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 5/6).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Missouri's War on Its Last Abortion Clinic," Imani Gandy, RH Reality Check.

~ "Finally, a Little Honesty: Anti-Choice Group Admits Abortion Regulations are About Ending Abortion -- Not Safety," McDonough, Salon.