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Blogs Comment on Supreme Court Pregnancy Bias Case, Helms Amendment, More

Blogs Comment on Supreme Court Pregnancy Bias Case, Helms Amendment, More

December 2, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Ms. Magazine, NPR and more.

PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION: "The Woman Who's Making a Difference for Pregnant Workers," Corinne Gaston, Ms. Magazine blog: The ruling in an upcoming Supreme Court case over workplace accommodations for pregnant employees "has the power to make the [Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PL 95-555)] virtually airtight and erase exploitable loopholes," writes Gaston. Gaston explains that the case, Young v. UPS, involves a UPS employee who was "forced out of work" after being denied workplace accommodations during her pregnancy. She notes that while UPS recently changed its policies to permit some pregnancy accommodations, "pregnant workers in all sorts of employment, from healthcare institutions to the aisles of Walmart, still face the reality of discrimination." Gaston adds, "Let's hope that the Supreme Court rules in favor of equitable treatment of pregnant workers with thanks to Young's perseverance for paving the way" (Gatson, Ms. Magazine blog, 11/25).

What others are saying about pregnancy discrimination:

~ "The Supreme Court May Limit Pregnant Women's Rights: Here's What You Should Know," Tom Spiggle, Huffington Post blogs.

HIV/AIDS: "On World AIDS Day, Fighting HIV and Stigma," Bridget Armstrong, NPR's "Code Switch": Armstrong commemorates World AIDS Day by writing about the "health professionals, activists and HIV-positive people from around the world" who at the annual International Conference on Stigma "shared their personal stories of surviving the virus and the bias that they have suffered after being diagnosed." Armstrong cites figures from CDC that "just 40 percent" of people with HIV received medical care for the virus, noting that "[o]ne barrier to treatment could be the persistent stigma that many HIV-positive people face." Specifically, she writes about two presenters, "activist and AIDS survivor Mary Bowman" and HIV-positive speaker Maria Mejia, who at the conference detailed their respective stories about discovering their HIV status and battling stigma, among other presenters (Armstrong, "Code Switch," NPR, 12/1).

What others are saying about HIV/AIDS:

~ "The Fight Against the Global HIV Epidemic has Finally Reached a ‘Tipping Point,'" Sam Collins, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Activists Are Already Trying To End Legal Abortion City by City," Robin Marty, Care2: "It's no wonder, with abortion clinics so concentrated in such small areas of the nation, that anti-abortion activists are doubling down on their quest to take restrictions not just to the state house, but to city councils and county seats as well," Marty writes, noting that roughly 89% of U.S. counties do not have a clinic. For example, Marty notes that the Rossville, Ga., City Council considered a resolution "banning abortion clinics in the city, despite the fact that there were no clinics there" and "forbid[ding] any organization that performs abortions from placing an advertisement in the city," while the St. Joseph County, Ind., City Council debated a failed "resolution to demand that any abortion provider in their county must have local hospital admitting privileges." This localized strategy "looks like it may be the new reality," Marty writes, noting that "[w]ith under 800 abortion clinics left in the country, picking them off city by city or county by county is looking more appealing to anti-abortion activists by the minute" (Marty, Care2, 11/28).

What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:

~ "'False Witnesses' Tells the Truth," Carole Joffe, ANSIRH Blog.

GLOBAL: "#HelmsHurts: How the U.S. Continues To Deny Critical Health Care to Women in War Zones," Nina Besser, International Women's Health Coalition's "Akimbo": The U.S.' "misinterpretat[ion]" of the Helms Amendment "currently stands between women raped in war zones and the health care they need," Besser, an IWHC program officer, writes. She explains that the amendment has "long been" incorrectly interpreted "as a complete ban on global abortion funding, when in fact it should allow for abortion funding in cases where abortion is not being utilized 'as a method of family planning' -- namely, in cases of rape, life endangerment of the woman, and incest." As IWHC and other members of the "international community continu[e] to mark the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence, access to health care must be part of the conversation," Besser writes, adding, "Correctly interpreting the Helms Amendment is an immediate step that President Obama could take to ensure that women who survive rape and sexual violence -- as well as victims of incest and women whose lives are endangered by their pregnancies -- have access to safe abortion services" (Besser, "Akimbo," IWHC, 11/26).

What others are saying about global issues:

~ "First Responders in Fiji Learn To Address Sexual Violence During Disasters," UN Women/Care2.

~ "A Move Forward for Abortion Rights in the Dominican Republic," Alexander Sanger, Huffington Post blogs.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Alabama Anti-Choicers Want To Regulate Abortion Clinics Like Sex Predators," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check: Abortion-rights opponents in Alabama are pushing legislation that would require a 2,000-foot buffer between schools and abortion clinics, the same minimum distance required between schools and sex offenders, after a judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to close a reopened clinic in Huntsville, Marcotte writes. She notes that while the Christian Coalition of Alabama's James Henderson, who is spearheading the effort, might "just [be] looking for any angle he can to shut down the clinic," his strategy implies that "getting an abortion is an even bigger, scarier sexual perversion than child molestation is." Marcotte writes that "under no circumstances is there a legitimate argument for how having an out-of-sight abortion take place within 2,000 feet of a child could have any impact on that kid," adding that while antiabortion-rights protests featuring graphic images of fetuses "could negatively affect children," it is unlikely that "Henderson and company would ... agree with banning picketing within 2,000 feet of a school" (Marcotte, RH Reality Check, 12/1).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Lessons on Allyship From the Fight Against Colorado's 'Personhood' Amendment," Cristina Aguilar, RH Reality Check.

SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: "Statistics Reveal Importance of #YesAllDaughters Anti-Rape Campaign," Nikki Gloudeman, Huffington Post blogs: Gloudeman writes about efforts backed by social media and the #YesAllDaughters campaign to "rally support" for three alleged rape survivors at a Norman, Okla., high school that helped reveal the "bigger picture" of rape culture. Specifically, Gloudeman writes about how #YesAllDaughters, in "achiev[ing] a bird's eye view" of the Ohio case, helped contextualize "manifest truths that are endemic to the rape culture," such as "the perpetrator's blase attitude toward sexual assault" and how the survivors' allegations of rape "were met with institutional indifference, victim shaming and bullying." Gloudeman outlines other aspects of rape culture at large, adding, "All of this is to say: This incident did not happen over there. It is happening here, and will continue to do so as long as the issues within the culture that fostered it are not addressed" (Gloudeman, Huffington Post blogs, 11/26).