October 10, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at RH Reality Check, Salon and more.
JUDICIAL BYPASS: "This is How Judges Humiliate Pregnant Teens Who Want Abortions," Molly Redden, Mother Jones: Redden discusses her review of more than 40 cases of minors in states with parental involvement laws who petitioned judges to allow them to have abortions. She notes that the Supreme Court in 1979 ruled that states with parental notification or consent laws had to "provide an escape hatch" for minors seeking abortion care, but that the high court did not specify "what form this escape hatch should take." As a result, abortion opponents in several states "put the decision in the hands of judges," who according to Redden's review often "denied minors' petitions for arbitrary, absurd, or personal reasons -- such as a minor's failure to discuss her decision with a priest." Further, Redden notes that many other minors do not receive a court case as all, with "the biggest obstacles" being "the court employees who act as the gatekeepers of the bypass system." She also notes that "since 2010, many states with new Republican governors -- or new GOP majorities in their legislatures -- have made the bypass process stricter" (Redden, Mother Jones, September/October 2014).
What others are saying about judicial bypass:
~ "The War on Women is a War on Teenage Girls: How Judicial Bypass Laws Shame Pregnant Minors and Threaten Personal Safety," Jenny Kutner, Salon.
REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: "Moving Forward: A Joint Statement From Cecile Richards and Monica Simpson," Monica Simpson/Cecile Richards, RH Reality Check: "This summer, we found ourselves in a much needed, public conversation about the limitations of the pro-choice label, the important work of reproductive justice organizations, and the ways Planned Parenthood has fallen short in recognizing the contributions and framework of the reproductive justice movement," write Simpson, executive director of SisterSong, and Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. They note that the conversation "led us to step back and think about how we could better work together," eventually resulting in a meeting this summer among "leaders from several reproductive justice organizations." The organizations "left [the] meeting hopeful and committed to building a stronger partnership, working together as [the groups] explore how an intentional and mutually beneficial relationship translates into action," Simpson and Richards write, adding that the "people we serve need us to change our approach in order to secure reproductive health, rights, and most importantly justice" (Simpson/Richards, RH Reality Check, 10/9).
TEXAS: "More Bad News About Abortion in Texas," Stephanie Hallett, Ms. Magazine blog: Issues surrounding abortion and Texas' "omnibus anti-abortion bill" (HB 2) have "heated up in the last few weeks -- and not in a good way," Hallett writes. Hallett provides a "rundown of what's happening right now," noting that the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals "declined to re-hear a case first brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights in September 2013" that challenged the law's provisions on admitting privileges and medication abortion. She adds that a "request with the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the 5th Circuit's ruling" is "currently before" the high court. Meanwhile, many clinics have been forced to close because of the law, and the "limitations on abortion have left nearly a million Texas women -- primarily middle- and lower-income -- without access to care," she writes (Hallett, Ms. Magazine blog, 10/9).
What others are saying about Texas:
~ "Texas Abortion Providers Head to Supreme Court To Fight Restrictive Anti-Choice Law," Kutner, Salon.
~ "Map Shows Abortion Access in Texas Now Only for Wealthy," Laura Bassett, Huffington Post blogs.
SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: "Ivy League Rape Nightmare: My Personal Reflection of Progress -- and Pain," Jesselyn Radack, Salon: Radack, director of National Security and Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project, recounts a time in college when she "reported a case of sexual misconduct to the police department," and how she felt "outrage at the lax disciplinary measures," which included sending the students involved a "Letter of Warning." She writes that when she tried to work with other students and school administrators "to make the system work better for women," their "input was continuously ignored." She notes that "sexual assault is again front and center news," and "[t]his time around, women are now getting hearings, but they are often little more than kangaroo courts run by inept and insensitive administrators and faculty." She concludes, "Sexual harassment and assault on campus are a nationwide epidemic, which now has the attention of not only university presidents, but the President of the United States," adding, "I never thought that would be possible. Or that it would be necessary" (Radack, Salon, 10/9).
What others are saying about sexual and gender-based violence:
~ "Why is 'Yes Means Yes' So Misunderstood?" Katha Pollitt, The Nation's "Subject to Debate."
~ "The American Restaurant Industry is Number One for Sexual Harassment Claims," Chloe Angyal, Feministing.
CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Advocates Urge Justice Department To Renounce the Criminalization of Pregnancy," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: After a Tennessee woman's prison sentence was enhanced by six years for committing drug-related crimes while pregnant, a group of "48 reproductive justice, drug policy reform, women's rights, and civil liberties organizations sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (D) calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to renounce enhanced criminal penalties" for pregnant offenders, Mason Pieklo writes. She writes that the groups in the letter argued that enhancing penalties because of pregnancy conflicts with "science and evidence-based research" that found such policies "harm public health interests." Specifically, the groups condemned a Tennessee law (SB 1391) enacted in April that changed the state's "'fetal homicide'" statute to allow for such sentencing practices (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 10/9).