National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Blogs Comment on Annual Pelvic Exams, Equal Rights Act, More

Blogs Comment on Annual Pelvic Exams, Equal Rights Act, More

July 25, 2014 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from The Nation, Ms. Magazine and more.

WOMEN'S HEALTH: "Do Healthy Women Need Annual Pelvic Exams?" Rachel Walden, OurBodies OurSelves' "Our Bodies, Our Blog": "More than 60 million pelvic exams are performed each year, but a new guideline from the American College of Physicians suggests that for most healthy women, they're not needed," Walden writes, noting "that the recommendations apply only to 'average risk' adult women who are not pregnant and who do not have any symptoms, such as pelvic pain, which might mean there is a problem such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, other pelvic organ problems, or infection." During a review of prior exam guidelines, ACP "considered whether the harms of the pelvic exam are outweighed by the benefits, and whether these vary by patient or provider characteristics." The group found there was no existing data supporting their effectiveness and recommended "against routine pelvic exams." However, Walden notes that the "American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists responded to the recommendation by urging women to continue to see their healthcare providers each year for well-woman visits," which "can sometimes include a pelvic exam, but are also an opportunity to get medication refills, review your medical history, have age-appropriate screenings and immunizations, and discuss other concerns with your provider" (Walden, "Our Bodies, Our Blog," OurBodies OurSelves, 7/24).

REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: "We're Arresting Poor Mothers for Our Own Failures," Bryce Covert, The Nation: Covert discusses the cases of Shanesha Taylor, "who was arrested for leaving her children in the car while she went to a job interview," and Debra Harrell, a "South Carolina mother arrested for letting her 9-year-old daughter play in a park alone while she worked her shifts at McDonalds." She writes that while "[n]either of these are ideal situations for children," none of them was harmed, and questions who is really at fault for the children being "put in these situations to begin with?" Covert notes, "These weren't mothers doing drugs or other dangerous activities and neglecting their children; they were both mothers trying to hold down jobs to provide for their children while stuck swirling in a Catch-22": not being able to "work or interview without childcare" and not being able to "afford childcare without a job that pays enough to cover the ever-increasing cost." Covert concludes, "Low-income mothers of color are trying to fulfill their end of the bargain. But they face multiple roadblocks, many of which we've set up in front of them. No one should be surprised when they end up making choices we don't think are best" (Covert, The Nation, 7/22).

ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Anti-Choice Protests Target New Orleans Clinics, Homes, Churches," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: "In the first few days of planned protests in New Orleans, anti-choice activists have disrupted the community by targeting reproductive health-care clinics, personal residences, and even houses of worship in the hopes of intimidating abortion providers and reproductive rights supporters," Wilson writes. Wilson explains that the protests, organized through Operation Save America, target "two New Orleans clinics that provide abortion care, a construction site where a Planned Parenthood facility is being built, and the home of a physician who is an abortion provider," among other locations. The protests "have focused primarily on harassing the staff, volunteers, and patients of reproductive health-care clinics," Wilson writes, adding that the protests "come in the wake of legislative efforts to reduce access to reproductive health care in Louisiana" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 7/24).

What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:

~ "Anti-Choice Groups Seek to Stack State Courts," Zoe Greenberg, RH Reality Check.

~ "I Scream, You Scream, the Anti-Choice Crowd Is Mad About Ice Cream," Madeleine Davies, Jezebel.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Number of Texas Women Living 200 Miles From an Abortion Clinic Has Jumped by 2,800 Percent," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": The omnibus antiabortion-rights package (HB 2) approved in Texas a "year ago this month" has "wreaked havoc on reproductive health access in the state, and half of Texas' clinics have been forced to shut down," writes Culp-Ressler, citing research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. According to TPEP's research, "the new abortion law is compromising women's ability to exercise their right to choose," as demonstrated by a "13 percent decline in the legal abortion rate in the Lone Star State," Culp-Ressler writes. She adds that because the rate is "steeper than the recent declines in the number of abortions observed across other states," it suggests that "the decreased access to clinics is preventing some Texas women from being able to have the medical procedure," an unsurprising finding given that "the number of women of reproductive age who live at least 200 miles away from an abortion clinic has skyrocketed by 2,800 percent -- jumping from 10,000 women in 2013 to 290,000 women in 2014." Culp-Ressler adds, "[I]t's important to remember that the new report focuses solely on legal abortions obtained in clinics, and doesn't reflect the number of women who may be resorting to illegal means of ending a pregnancy" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/23).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "The Onion's Brilliant Take on Abortion Restrictions Will Make You Laugh/Sob," Katie McDonough, Salon.

~ "Super-Restrictive Ireland Abortion Laws Are Violating Women's Rights, and the UN Knows It," Lauren Barbato, Bustle.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN/RAPE/SEXUAL HARASSMENT: "The Disturbing Reason Why Some Rape Kits Are Tested While Others Aren't," Mindy Townsend, Care2: It is "hard to blame anyone for not reporting a rape," and "[i]t certainly doesn't help that," according to the Department of Justice, "there are an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits in cities across the country," Townsend writes. However, what "makes the whole situation even more problematic" is that "law enforcement ... is prioritizing 'classic' rape cases -- stranger rape, violent rape -- over the vast majority of cases, which means that the vast majority of victims are being left without justice." She concludes, "Think of how many rapes could have been avoided if we just took sexual assault seriously to begin with and stopped giving preferential treatment to only a certain type of rape" (Townsend, Care 2, 7/22).

What others are saying about violence against women/rape/sexual harassment:

~ "NFL Will Bench You Longer for Driving With No License Than Violently Assaulting Women," Katie McDonough, Salon.

~ "World's Most Famous College Marching Band Fires Director, Was a Cesspool of Sexual Harassment," Judd Legum, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

~ "Montana Judge Censured for Suggesting Teenage Rape Victim Partly to Blame for Attack," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.

EQUAL RIGHTS: "It's Been 90 Years: Time To Pass the ERA," Stephanie Hallett, Ms. Magazine blog: "Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court Thursday morning to demand that the Equal Rights Amendment finally pass," Hallett writes. She adds that the lawmakers, joined by Feminist Majority Foundation President Ellie Smeal, "NOW President Terry O'Neill and other feminist leaders and activists, called on legislators to codify women's equality in the constitution." She notes that both Speier and Maloney have introduced legislation to enact the ERA, Speier through legislation (H.J. Res. 113) that would allow the states that failed to ratify the amendment by its last deadline in 1982 to do so now, and Maloney through a resolution (H.J. Res. 56) that would reintroduce the ERA and submit it to states for ratification. "Ninety years is long enough -- it's time to pass the ERA," Hallett writes (Hallett, Ms. Magazine blog, 7/24).

What others are saying about equal rights:

~ "After Hobby Lobby, Democratic Legislators Push Anew for Equal Rights Amendment," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check.