October 24, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the RH Reality Check, Feministing and more.
ABORTION STIGMA: "Groundbreaking Research Aims To Expand Our Knowledge of Abortion Stigma," Steph Herold, RH Reality Check: The academic community has given "little scholarly attention" to abortion stigma, even though it "permeates every level of our culture," from "myths and mischaracterizations of abortion in the media" to the "marginalization of the procedure" among health professionals, Sea Change Program Deputy Director Steph Herold writes. Herold notes that "scholars from [the] Sea Change Program, as well as Ipas and the University of California, San Francisco-affiliated research group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health" have launched a special issue of the journal Women and Health that focuses on abortion stigma and its "long-ranging consequences on a national scale," as well as "ways to combat it." According to Herold, "The organizers of the project hope that the issue ... both inspires and supports other academics interested in studying abortion stigma" and "'spark[s] a movement of individuals and organizations working to understand and mitigate abortion stigma at local, regional, and global levels'" (Herold, RH Reality Check, 10/22).
What others are saying about abortion stigma:
~ "What Having an Abortion in 1959 Was Like," Diana Wiener, Buzzfeed.
CONTRACEPTION: "Legal Scholars, Reproductive Health Advocates Comment on Exemptions to Birth Control Benefit," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "The commenting period on a proposed expansion of the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) accommodation to the contraception coverage benefit for religious objectors closed Tuesday, leaving the Obama administration to the task of deciding what kind of companies can avoid covering contraception for their employees," Mason Pieklo writes. According to Mason Pieklo, "the next question is whether or not those that have filed lawsuits challenging the contraception rule will accept whatever proposal the Obama administration comes up with." Meanwhile, Mason Pieklo writes that the Obama "administration's accommodation woes continue on the religiously affiliated nonprofit front as well," as those groups have indicated the administration's latest update to the accommodation "will not be sufficient and that they will likely continue with their litigation regardless of what accommodation the administration ultimately releases" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 10/23).
WORKPLACE POLICIES: "American Business Should Take the Lead on Paid Parental Leave," David Hanrahan, Huffington Post blogs: "[B]usiness leaders should step up and offer paid parental leave -- for all parents -- at least at the [Family and Medical Leave Act (PL 103-3)] minimum of 12 weeks," writes Hanrahan of Change.org, noting that "[t]he challenge for CEO's and HR leaders is deciding whether to wait for the government to mandate full pay for parental leave, or to lead on leave themselves." Hanrahan writes that employees should not be "be penalized with reduced pay for taking protected parental leave." In the absence of state and federal mandates on the issue, businesses can either wait or "be on the leading edge" and "take tangible action to value the role of parents at your company," Hanrahan writes (Hanrahan, Huffington Post blogs, 10/22).
SEX EDUCATION: "Want Kids To Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor": A new study found that an "abstain-for-now message" in a comprehensive sex education program for younger teenagers produced "impressive results," Marcotte writes, describing Planned Parenthood's Get Real program for middle schoolers, which emphasizes communication skills and "realistically frames abstinence as good for younger teens while accepting that things change when [they] get a little older." Researchers from Wellesley Centers for Women tracked middle school students who completed the Get Real program and found that 16% fewer boys and 15% fewer girls had sex, compared with their peers who did not participate in the program, Marcotte explains. She adds that the program's messages help debunk norms that boys cannot be responsible for sexual decision-making, in contrast to many abstinence-only programs that convey that such decisions are "solely the responsibility of girls, on the faulty assumption that boys can't help themselves" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Slate, 10/22).
SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: "Let's Stop Neglecting Dating Violence Survivors," Dana Bolger, Feministing: Despite a greater awareness of sexual assault in recent years, there has "been little attention paid to other pervasive forms of gender-based violence also protected against under Title IX -- including campus dating (or domestic) violence," Bolger writes. She continues, "Implicit in this refusal to acknowledge dating violence as worthy of our concern is a collective construction of hierarchies of harm, a framing of some forms of violence as more 'real' and thus more important than others." She notes that dating violence encompasses not only physical assault but also "emotional abuse and psychological manipulation," which "we persistently lack the (legal) language to describe." She writes, "The failures of the criminal justice system for dating and domestic violence survivors ... are reasons why we need better civil responses to violence" (Bolger, Feministing, 10/21).
What others are saying about sexual and gender-based violence:
~ "New Federal Rules Will Change the Way Colleges Handle Sexual Assault," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check.
~ "The Day That Men's Sports Got it Right," Michele Kort, Ms. Magazine blog.