December 5, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at the Huffington Post, SCOTUSblog and more.
PREGNANCY DISCRIMINTATION: "The Supreme Court Should Say 'No' to Pregnancy Discrimination," Debra Ness, Huffington Post blogs: Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, calls on the Supreme Court to "secure ... pregnant workers' right to equal treatment" by ruling in favor of Peggy Young, a former UPS employee who sued the company for allegedly violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PL 95-555) by forcing her to take unpaid leave instead of accommodating her light-duty request during her pregnancy. Ness notes that "[t]here is much at stake for the health and economic well-being of America's women and their families" in the case because the high court's decision "will determine if, and in what circumstances, an employer that accommodates non-pregnant employees with work limitations must also accommodate pregnant employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work." She continues, "When employers deny equal treatment to ... women," they force pregnant employees "to make an impossible choice between jeopardizing their families' financial security and following their doctors' advice," adding that the Supreme Court "should uphold the law and signal that pregnancy discrimination in all its forms is illegal" (Ness, Huffington Post blogs, 12/3).
What others are saying about pregnancy discrimination:
~ "Argument Analysis: 'As Compared to What?'" Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog.
~ "Supreme Court Appears Baffled by How To Accommodate Pregnant Workers," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.
REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE: "Activists Must Address HIV in Reproductive Justice Advocacy," Melanie Medalle/Nerissa Irizarry, RH Reality Check: "[A]ctivists must approach HIV advocacy using a reproductive justice framework" to address "ingrained prejudice" that contributes to "disparities in care and prevention" for individuals with HIV, Medalle and Irizarry write. They note the "significant racial disparities" in diagnoses, HIV treatment and care, as well as how prevention efforts have focused on cisgender gay men "as the primary population in need" and "gravely neglect[ed] women or transgender individuals." Further, Medalle and Irizarry note that these care and prevention disparities are coupled with "punitive legal policies" to "perpetuate a stigma" that paints individuals with HIV as "medically pathological, sexually deviant and a drain on social resources," creating stereotypes that "are quietly carried over into other spheres of sexual health and reproductive justice." According to the bloggers, reproductive-rights activists are "well positioned" to apply a reproductive justice framework to "address the root causes and the distributive impact of oppressive sexual and reproductive health policy, law and culture on the lives of people living with HIV" (Medalle/Irizarry, RH Reality Check, 12/2).
ABORTION BANS: "Women Protest Ohio's Proposed Six Week Abortion Ban: 'Our Bodies, Our Decisions,'" Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Ohio Republican lawmakers "have been doing everything in their power to advance a six-week abortion ban [HB 248]," but it is "still unclear whether it has enough support to move further," Culp-Ressler writes. The bill's opponents came together Wednesday "under the hashtag #PinkWednesday" and "rallied on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse ... urging their lawmakers to stop pursuing unconstitutional abortion bans," she adds. They "argued that the legislation is bad medicine and bad policy, and will provoke a potentially costly legal fight if it ends up getting approved," Culp-Ressler writes, noting that "unlikely suspects," such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and "[s]ome of the anti-choice groups in the state," have also voiced concerns about the bill's constitutionality (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 12/4).
GLOBAL: "Meet the Family Behind Latin America's Version of Planned Parenthood," Maddie Oatman, Mother Jones "Political Mojo": Oatman writes about a recent California Sunday piece on Jorge Villarreal, a physician who in 1977 launched Oriéntame, the Planned Parenthood "equivalent organization" for women in Colombia. Oatman explains that Villarreal opened the first clinic for women suffering from "bad" or "'incomplete abortions'" because the country at the time banned the procedure. His daughter, Cristina Villarreal, eventually "assumed leadership of the organization" and helped push for the legalization of abortion in the country 30 years later, Oatman continues. The organization is "now credited with inspiring more than 600 outposts across Latin America 'and for reshaping abortion politics across the continent,'" Oatman writes, citing the California Sunday piece, adding that while Oriéntame "continues to struggle for funding" it "has already laced together a much-needed safety net that will be difficult to undo" (Oatman, "Political Mojo," Mother Jones, 12/4).
TRAP Laws: "Virginia Board of Health Votes To Amend Anti-Abortion Law," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check: "The Virginia Board of Health on Thursday voted to amend some of the state's strict anti-abortion regulations that subject clinics to the same architectural standards as hospitals," Liss-Schultz writes. She notes that the "regulatory process set in motion" by the vote could "take up to two years to complete," but it might "result in the effective reversal of the law, which threatens to close the state's 18 abortion clinics." According to Liss-Schultz, current Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) ordered the state Department of Health to review the regulations after he took office in 2013, noting that the requirements could "'negatively impact women's access to necessary health services.'" The Department of Health's commissioner in October "published recommendations to amend the law," and the board's approval means that the state can "craft and move forward with an amendment," Liss-Schultz explains (Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check, 12/4).