July 18, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from ACLU, the Huffington Post & more.
CONTRACEPTION: "Hobby Lobby and the Dignity of the Refused," Louise Melling, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights": The Supreme Court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby case effectively "enshrin[ed] into law that religion can be used to discriminate against women" and "leaves open the question [of] whether sincerely held religious belief can be used to discriminate in other ways, such as against LGBT people," Melling, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, writes. The debate over religious exemptions has rarely discussed the potential harms to the individuals who are refused services, instead focusing on the "harm to religious objectors caused by not granting these accommodations," she notes. Citing a paper she co-wrote, Melling argues that the "harm goes far beyond the services denied" and also encroaches on the "dignity of the person who is turned away and ostracized," such as when Hobby Lobby "tells women seeking to use certain contraception, 'You are shameful. We won't help you'" (Melling, "Blog of Rights," ACLU, 7/17).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "Why are We Still Fighting Over Birth Control in the 21st Century?" Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Republicans Block Congress From Reversing the Hobby Lobby Decision," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "White House: Companies Refusing To Cover Contraception Must Tell Employees," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check.
SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES: "What To Expect When Your Employee's Expecting," Ariela Migdal, ACLU's "Blog of Rights": "This week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued an enforcement guidance" that "makes clear ... that employers have to give pregnant workers, who have temporary restrictions related to their pregnancies, the same kinds of light-duty assignments and other reasonable accommodations that they give to other workers with temporary lifting restrictions," Migdal writes. She outlines several other components of the guidance, including how it bars employers from "discriminat[ing] against workers for breastfeeding" and "makes clear that employers may not generally force pregnant workers who are able to work to take leave," among other requirements. "The guidance will go a long way towards eliminating this unlawful discrimination and inequality in the workplace," Migdal concludes (Migdal, "Blogs of Rights," ACLU, 7/17).
'BUFFER ZONE' LEGISLATION: "Massachusetts is Rushing Through Legislation To Fix the Supreme Court's Ruling on Buffer Zones," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": After the Supreme Court's decision to strike down Massachusetts' "buffer zone" law, "state lawmakers are rushing through new legislation to ensure that patients will still be able to safely enter clinics," Culp-Ressler writes. If signed into law, the new bill (S 2281) "would strengthen criminal penalties for certain disruptive behavior outside of abortion clinics," she explains. "Lawmakers are hoping the new legislation will strike the appropriate balance between patient safety and protesters' First Amendment rights," but "it's unlikely to please the individuals who brought down buffer zones," she adds (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/17).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "States Prescribe Bad Medicine for Women Seeking Abortions," Emily Shugerman, Ms. Magazine blog: The day "before senators testified on behalf of a bill to protect women's health services, the National Partnership for Women & Families released a report detailing just how threatened these services are," Shugerman writes. Thirty-three states have at least one of the four types of abortion restrictions mentioned in the report -- biased counseling, mandatory delays, medication abortion restrictions and ultrasound requirements -- while 16 states have all four, she notes. "These laws require physicians to act according to state ideologies, not scientific evidence," Shugerman explains, concluding, "More importantly, they obscure the fact that reproductive health care should be treated like any other form of health care: an issue for the patient and her doctor, not for politicians" (Shugerman, Ms. Magazine blog, 7/16).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "A Federal Pro-Choice Bill That Would Stem the Anti-Choice Tide in the States," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.
~ "How To Get an Abortion in Texas," Jenny Kutner, Salon.