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Blogs Comment on Harsher Prison Sentences for Pregnant Women, Safety of Abortion, More

Blogs Comment on Harsher Prison Sentences for Pregnant Women, Safety of Abortion, More

December 12, 2014 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at ACLU, RH Reality Check and more.

CRIMINALIZING PREGNANCY: "What's Next? Prosecuting a Pregnant Woman for Working Full Time?" Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights": After Tennessee resident Lacey Weld's prison sentence for committing drug-related crimes was enhanced because she was pregnant, the American Civil Liberties Union joined an amicus "brief filed by the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, on behalf of leading constitutional, medical, and public health experts, asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the decision to punish Ms. Weld for her pregnancy," Kolbi-Molinas writes. Kolbi-Molinas notes that ACLU has "also asked Attorney General [Eric] Holder to renounce the federal prosecutor in Tennessee's actions and ensure that no other federal prosecutor takes this position in the future." Criminalizing pregnancy is "flatly unconstitutional [and] it's dangerous for women, families, and babies," she writes, adding, "Those really concerned with the welfare of women and babies would do well to make sure pregnant women struggling with addiction have better access to health care, not use them as examples to further their own private or political gain" (Kolbi-Molinas, "Blog of Rights," American Civil Liberties Union, 12/11).

ABORTION CARE: "Study of Over 50,000 Abortion Patients Finds Low Complication Rate," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: Researchers involved in a new study demonstrating the safety of abortion have noted that the findings "cal[l] into question many conservative lawmakers' claims that requiring legal abortion care be provided in ambulatory surgical centers, or requiring abortion-providing doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, would increase the safety [of] the procedure," Grimes writes. She notes that the study found that "'major complications' after legal abortion care are extremely rare, and that overall, legal abortion care has a 'very low complication rate.'" Grimes adds that while antiabortion-rights lawmakers in several states have expressed safety concerns to advance abortion restrictions, the study's "researchers warned ... that the shuttering of abortion providers as a result of these more stringent laws could put those who need abortion care in danger, forcing them to travel longer distances to access legal abortion care or attempt illegal pregnancy terminations at home" (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 12/9).

ADOLESCENT HEALTH: "Where are All the LGBTQ-Inclusive Sex Ed Books?" Christen McCurdy, RH Reality Check: "Too often, sex education materials meant to explain the 'basics' to kids are not written with a broader understanding of what those basics are," McCurdy writes, noting that this absence "is particularly evident considering the dearth of books describing reproduction, puberty, and sexuality in a way that acknowledges -- implicitly or explicitly -- LGBTQ identities." According to McCurdy, roughly 9% "of teenagers identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning" and "as many as six million" U.S. residents "have an LGBT-identified parent," but adolescents have "few options" for sex education materials that include such individuals. "The puberty guide I'd like to see would describe the process of growing up using a variety of authors and voices with a variety of experiences and gender identities," she writes (McCurdy, RH Reality Check, 12/10).

CONTRACEPTION: "The Rise of the IUD," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": While long-acting reversible contraceptives have "historically been one of the least popular" forms of birth control, a new CDC report shows the trend "may be slowly changing," with the rate of women opting for intrauterine devices and hormonal implants increasing from 3.8% between 2006 and 2010 to 7.2% between 2011 and 2013, writes Culp-Ressler. According to Culp-Ressler, the uptick is linked to several factors, including changing physician practices and attitudes, policy changes such as the federal contraceptive coverage rules, and studies that "repeatedly confirmed that IUDs are safe for younger women." However, she notes that despite increased use, IUDs still are controversial because of "[r]ight-wing religious groups" that "claim that IUDs are a form of abortion, even though there's no scientific evidence to back that up" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 12/11).

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Anti-Abortion Laws Are Expected To Get Even Worse in the New Year," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": After the 2014 elections "handed significant victories to abortion opponents," state legislators have begun planning "harsher restrictions" to propose in 2015, Culp-Ressler writes, noting that states that "have already managed to heavily restrict" access to abortion "will likely double down on their agenda, making their existing anti-choice laws even tougher." For example, she notes that states that already impose mandatory counseling requirements could "tighten their laws so that women are required to make an in-person trip to the clinic," rather than receiving the information over the phone, before an abortion, while states that have imposed "strict building code standards could increase the pressure even further" by enacting admitting privileges requirements (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 12/10).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "States Facilitate Abortion Disinformation," David Grimes, Huffington Post blogs.