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Blogs Comment on Catholic Hospitals, ACA Open Enrollment, More

Blogs Comment on Catholic Hospitals, ACA Open Enrollment, More

January 13, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at Care2, the Huffington Post and more.

ACCESS TO CARE: "As Catholic Hospitals Block Tubal Ligations, Women Lose Out," Robin Marty, Care2: "While the medical industry continues to collapse and consolidate, more hospitals are merging with Catholic based entities, and part of the price of partnership is an adherence to Catholic healthcare directives that claim that there is never a justifiable reason to allow a woman to have a tubal ligation," Marty writes. She notes that Catholic hospitals that had "previously turned a blind eye to the prohibition" and permitted women to obtain the procedure during cesarean sections are "now being forbidden to continue the practice." As a result, patients are left "with the options of either finding another hospital to perform a second surgery at least six weeks after birth ... or going with a less permanent method, in some cases leading to unwanted pregnancies and birth," Marty writes. The policy "stands counter to medical ethics, where Bishops are literally forbidding one type of care in order to stick to their religious beliefs, even though that decision could endanger that patient’s health down the road," Marty writes, adding, "When a person has decided she is no longer interested in having children, it should be up to her, not to the Catholic bishops writing medical directives" (Marty, Care2, 1/10).

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: "Great Strides for Women's Health Under the Affordable Care Act," Valerie Jarrett, Huffington Post blogs: Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, highlights the findings of an HHS report on "the important strides we have made in women's health as a result of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act" (PL 111-148). She notes that the report, released Friday, "outlines a significant 5.5 percentage point decline in the uninsured rate among women between the ages of 18 and 64 since 2013" and shows that "over 48 million women have benefited from ... expanded access to preventive care," such as for "mammograms, Pap smears, contraception, domestic violence screening, and other vital health services" now available "for no out-of-pocket cost." She adds that the report "also found that the ACA has been instrumental in providing maternity benefits" to 8.7 million U.S. women who bought marketplace coverage. She concludes by noting that although many women have enrolled in marketplace coverage, "there are still millions of women who have yet to sign up and gain access to these crucial services" and calls on individuals to do so prior to the Feb. 15 end of the open enrollment period (Jarrett, Huffington Post blogs, 1/9).

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "The GOP's Abortion-Obsessed First Day," Sally Kohn, Daily Beast: Kohn writes that despite GOP politicians' claims that they would focus on the economy in the new congressional session, conservative lawmakers "introduced no fewer than five restrictions on abortion on the first day of the new Republican-controlled Congress." She explains that the bills include a measure (HR 36) reintroduced by Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy in most cases. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) also introduced four antiabortion-rights bills: legislation to "bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for family planning work" (S 51); "require all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital" (S 78); "allow hospitals, doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in abortion-related care even in cases of an emergency -- which makes that 'admitting privileges' bill entirely disingenuous" (S 50); and "ban 'sex-selective abortion,' which is purely a fictional boogieman invented by anti-abortion opponents" (S 48). Kohn writes, "Job creation, eh? The only jobs these bills will create are at advocacy organizations protesting these ridiculous infringements on reproductive freedom," adding, "This isn't what the American people voted for" (Kohn, Daily Beast, 1/13).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Your State's Probably 'Hostile' To Abortion, Says Scary Guttmacher Institute Report," Lauren Barbato, Bustle.

~ "Colorado Republicans Introduce 'Personhood' Bill After Ballot Measure Defeat," Jason Salzman, RH Reality Check.

~ "Tennessee Lawmaker Introduces Bill To Force Doctors To Provide Misleading Information," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.

CONTRACEPTION: "The Group Behind America's Biggest Anti-Abortion March Now Says Birth Control Causes Abortions," Molly Redden, Mother Jones: The March for Life Education and Defense Fund, which organizes the annual antiabortion-rights protest against the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade, is currently "fighting for an exemption from the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) mandate that all private employers provide contraception coverage," writes Redden. Specifically, she notes that the group has claimed in legal filings that hormonal birth control causes abortions, "a characterization with which most physicians strongly disagree." Further, Redden notes that "[p]olls consistently find that a majority of Americans who oppose abortion have no moral objections to birth control." She continues, "[m]ost of those planning to attend [this year's] march probably have no idea that March for Life views birth control as immoral" given that the organization "doesn't advertise its opinions on birth control in its promotional material for the protest" and "bills the march as a mass demonstration against 'legalized abortion on demand.'" Redden cites Joerg Dreweke, a Guttmacher Institute policy researcher, who said the organization's lawsuit "is part of a pattern of anti-abortion groups conflating contraception with abortion in a quiet effort to roll back both" (Redden, Mother Jones, 1/12).

What others are saying about contraception:

~ "The Birth Control Evangelists Who Want To Talk To You About Their IUDs," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

LGBTQ HEALTH AND RIGHTS: "DOJ Solidifies Protection for Transgender Rights," Ian Thompson, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights": "While the American workplace is often notoriously inhospitable to transgender" individuals, the Department of Justice last month took an "important step forward in the ongoing fight for basic fairness and equal treatment under the law" by issuing a memorandum that "explicitly clarified that gender identity discrimination claims are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act," Thompson writes. He shares the story of Diane Schroer, a 25-year Army veteran, who had a job offer at the Library of Congress rescinded after telling her future boss "that she was in the process of transitioning" from a man to a woman. After the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Library of Congress on Schroer's behalf, the court "ruled that discriminating against someone for changing genders is sex discrimination and a violation of Title VII," Thompson writes. He adds that while DOJ "vigorously fought Diane's lawsuit" at the time, the department's "change in policy ... vindicates Diane's battle against workplace discrimination and provides protection for transgender Americans as they struggle for the respect and dignity they deserve" (Thompson, "Blog of Rights," ACLU, 1/12).