October 14, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Washington Post, the New Republic and more.
FAMILY PLANNING AND CONTRACEPTION: "How Family Planning Programs Save Taxpayers Billions of Dollars Each Year," Jason Millman, Washington Post's "Wonkblog": "Publicly-funded family planning services help low-income Americans avoid serious health conditions while saving billions of dollars each year," according to a new Guttmacher Institute report, Millman writes, noting that such programs "saved taxpayers $13.6 billion in 2010" by avoiding costs tied to unintended pregnancies and by providing services such as "testing for sexually transmitted infections and cervical cancer." The report serves as "a reminder that family planning services are about much more than just contraception," Millman writes. Overall, the report found that publicly funded family planning "meant a $7.09 return on investment for each public dollar spent" in 2010 on such services, Millman adds (Millman, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 10/14).
What others are saying about family planning and contraception:
~ "It's Astounding That We're Still Debating the Pill After 50 Years," Rebecca Leber, New Republic's "Q.E.D."
CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "Tennessee Sentenced a Woman to Six Extra Years in Jail Simply Because She Was Pregnant," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": "Once you can get six extra years in prison because you made an unhealthy but not illegal choice while pregnant, it seems that the door is open to all sorts of policing of pregnant women's behavior," Marcotte writes, discussing a recent case in which a Tennessee woman was given "enhanced sentencing" for methamphetamine manufacturing because she was involved in the process while pregnant. According to a Vice report on the case, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women led a coalition of reproductive-rights organizations to urge the Department of Justice to protest the woman's sentencing, noting that drug use is not a crime under Tennessee or federal law, Marcotte writes. Marcotte adds, "[W]ith enhanced sentencing, the legal groundwork is being laid for criminalizing things that otherwise are not crimes because they are being performed while pregnant" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 10/13).
SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES: "Pittsburgh Passes 'Reasonable Accommodations' for Pregnant Workers," Tara Murtha, Women's Law Project blog: The "Pittsburgh City Council passed legislation [Ordinance 2014-0809] that calls for 'reasonable accommodations' for pregnant women who work for the city or city contracts, and bans discrimination against pregnant employees," Murtha writes. She adds that the ordinance "cites examples of discrimination from around the state [of Pennsylvania], including a supermarket cashier ... who lost her job because she followed her doctor's orders to carry a water bottle and a pregnant security guard denied a request to sit down part of her shift in downtown Pittsburgh." Murtha writes that while "the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 [PL 95-555] banned discrimination against pregnant workers, it does not address reasonable accommodations under all circumstances," noting that state and federal lawmakers have proposed bills (S 942, HR 1975) to combat such discrimination (Murtha, Women's Law Project blog, 10/13).
What others are saying about supporting working families/pregnant workers' rights:
~ "Microsoft CEO Apologizes for Ridiculous Comments About Women," Sarah Gray, Salon.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "'There's no Such Thing as a 'Bad' Abortion,'" Alex Ronan, New York Magazine's "The Cut": Ronan interviews Katha Pollitt, a feminist critic, an essayist for The Nation and author of the upcoming book "Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights." Pollitt tells Ronan that, in order to mobilize the abortion-rights movement, "we need to ... stop apologizing about abortion all the time." Pollitt continues, "We say abortion is terrible, but you should be legally able to have one," but that is "not really a ringing defense," particularly compared with abortion opponents who say "abortion is really terrible." Pollitt states, "There's no such thing as a 'bad' abortion. Life is messy and complicated; people are going to have sex and experience unplanned pregnancies. Abortion is just a part of life" (Ronan, "The Cut," New York Magazine, 10/13).