October 7, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Slate's "XX Factor," RH Reality Check and more.
SUPREME COURT: "Six Supreme Court Cases Equality Advocates Should Watch This Term," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: Among RH Reality Check's list of upcoming Supreme Court cases to watch, Mason Pieklo lists Young v. United Parcel Service, in which the high court will be "considering just how far employers must go in accommodating pregnant workers." In addition, Mason Pieklo says abortion-rights supporters should keep an eye on Elonis v. United States, in which a man is challenging a conviction for posting Facebook "messages about killing his ex-wife and shooting up an elementary school" on free speech grounds. While there is a possibility for a narrow ruling, Mason Pieklo points out that "a broad ruling from the Court could have far-reaching consequences that could affect the strategies of anti-choice activists who have used violence and intimidation as tools in the abortion rights battle." Other cases to watch include Holt v. Hobbs, which will test religious liberties; Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama and Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama, which involves redistricting and the Voting Rights Act; Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, a campaign-finance case; and Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, a test of the Fair Housing Act (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 10/6).
SEX EDUCATION: "'Students for Life' Tries To Shut Down Sex Week at the University of New Mexico," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check: Marcotte recaps the controversy around "what should be an utter non-controversy at the University of New Mexico: The fact that sex was being talked about during Sex Week," She writes that while the week's events had "racy titles and content," the reason for them "is simple enough: It's a way to draw attention to material that actually offers serious lessons about safety and consent." However, she notes, "Anti-choice activists have been at the forefront" of the backlash and "ire -- even though abortions didn't get a single mention in the program schedule," with Students for Life Vice President Sade Patterson instead urging "a workshop on 'how to say no' or how to handle a date-rape situation." Marcotte concludes that comments by such groups are representative of "the anti-choice movement in a nutshell: The belief that sex is 'gross,' and that should be reason enough for you to screw up other people's lives in a futile effort to make them stop doing it" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 10/6).
SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: "When Domestic Violence Victims Are Imprisoned for Their Abusers' Crimes," Amanda Hess, Slate 's "The XX Factor:" Hess comments on a case in which a domestic abuse victim, Arlena Lindley, "was sentenced to 45 years in prison for child abuse by 'omission,' or failing to protect her son from" abuse by her then-boyfriend, Alonzo Turner, that eventually led to the boy's death. A recent BuzzFeed investigation profiled Lindley's case and explored "how some state laws are attempting to protect children from domestic abuse by penalizing other victims in the household -- largely, women," Hess writes. The BuzzFeed investigation "uncovered at least 28 similar cases in 11 states, where mothers have been 'sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for failing to prevent their partners from harming their children,'" all of which included "'evidence the mother herself had been battered by the man.'" Hess notes that the investigation "demonstrates how the criminal justice system is scapegoating domestic violence victims in order to cover for its failures to properly investigate and prosecute instances of child and intimate partner abuse" (Hess, "The XX Factor," Slate, 10/3).
What others are saying about sexual and gender-based violence:
~ "When Rape Victims Don’t Know Whether or Not They’ve Been Raped," Ximena Ramirez, Care2.
~ "5 Myths About Domestic Violence," Ellen Hendriksen, Huffington Post blogs.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "The Worst Phone Call of My Career: I’m Sorry Clinics, You Have to Close," Brigitte Amiri, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights:" Amiri, of the American Civil Liberties Union's Freedom Project, writes that she "had to make a phone call ... that [she has] been dreading [her] entire career," in which she was forced to tell "amazing abortion clinics" that they had to "close their doors after serving Texas women for more than 30 years." The clinics had to close after an appeals court allowed Texas' sweeping antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) to take effect. A provision of the law "requires abortion clinics to make medically unnecessary and prohibitively costly renovations" that left just "eight abortion clinics" operating in a state that is "home to more than 5.5 million women of childbearing age." Amiri explains that "[a]ll other clinics have been forced to immediately shut down, including two of" the Freedom Project's clients. Amiri concludes that she "can only hope that justice will prevail eventually and that [the clinics] will be able to go back to providing high quality care that women need and deserve" (Amiri, "Blog of Rights," American Civil Liberties Union, 10/3).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Fifth Circuit Allows More Limits on Abortion in Texas," Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog.
~ "Closing Down Abortion Clinics, Giving Fetuses Lawyers," Andrew Rosenthal, New York Times' "Taking Note."
FEMINISM: "What Emma Watson's U.N. Speech on Feminism Means for Men," Barbara McNally, Huffington Post blogs: McNally, founder of the Mother Lover Fighter Sage Foundation, comments on actress Emma Watson's recent speech in front of the United Nations, which "focused on societal misconceptions of the feminist movement and instead of focusing on the word 'feminist,' [spotlighted] the mission and ambition behind the word." McNally writes that Watson's speech concentrated on "encouraging society to think of the many ways gender inequality is also a problem for the males of the world," a topic that "shook the gender scales and ... sparked discussions from both women and men on how gender discrimination is an issue affecting men just as much as it is a concern for women." McNally urges everyone to view gender inequality not as "an isolated female issue," but as "a human race issue" (McNally, Huffington Post blogs, 10/6).
ABORTION PROVIDERS: "More Than 3,000 People Have Signed Up for the First Online Abortion Class," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": More than 3,000 people have registered for the "first online course on abortion care that's ever been offered by a U.S. school," Culp-Ressler writes, adding that the course's creator -- Jody Steinauer from the University of California-San Francisco -- wants to "dedicate more time to a topic that often gets overlooked in medical school." The online class will include lectures from more than 20 faculty members from different institutions to "'place abortion within the context of public health and fill in the gaps left by its exclusion from mainstream curricula in health professions,'" according to the course description. While it is "possible that Steinauer's course will spark some pushback," it also "could make a big difference for female patients who want to be able to talk to their health providers about the procedure," Culp-Ressler writes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/6).